‘When everybody’s clapping you feel on top of the world’- Miss Teen Ireland (17) defends pageant open to young women from 14
The Irish woman who was crowned 2015’s Miss Teen Ireland has addressed competition of the event, which is open to young women from the age of 14.
Emma Gavin was crowned the winner of last year’s competition, open to teenagers in the Republic and Northern Ireland, and said the culture builds confidence and important life skills.
“I understand people watch the likes of Toddlers and Tiaras but that’s not what it’s like here,” Gavin told TV3’s Ireland AM.
“Basically it’s a completely different thing. It’s more judged on personality more than, you know, getting up on stage and how you look and how big your smile is. When I won Miss Teen Ireland I went there with no intentions of winning but the first year I did Miss Teen Ireland I came first.
“It’s fun and I met a load of people from it. I actually met my best friend,” she said.
The secondary school girl, who is set to do her Leaving Certificate next year, said competing in the pageants gives her a buzz unlike any other and has helped her build confidence.
“I did ballet and have done since I was four. I love [the stage]. Even when I was in Spain I’d do karaoke all the time and I’d make everybody watch me. It was something fun. When you’re going up on stage you feel great and you feel good about yourself. When everybody’s clapping for you, you feel great, you feel on top of the world,” she said.
“It’s not about winning, it’s not about losing. It’s about going and having a good time. Enjoying yourself is the main thing. If you’re in it to win it, what’s the point, where’s the fun,” she said.
The Maynooth teenager appeared on the programme with Jennie Lynch, the organiser of six events which are due to take place in Dublin in October, one of which is open to children aged 10, who can compete for the Junior Miss Ireland title.
Speaking to The Irish Independent last week, Lynch stressed that the pageants' purpose is to build confidence and friendships, and is not judged on physical appearance.
However there are no restrictions on the wearing of make-up, fake tan and other accessories.
"I would encourage those with concerns to actually watch one of our pageants and see that no matter what each girl looks like, everyone in the room is cheering for them," Jennie said.
"It is about having fun, a night of glitz and glamour."
Last year’s Miss Teen Ireland, who was 15 when she was crowned, revealed she would be opposed to competitions that involve a swimwear category, unlike Miss Teen Ireland which does not.
“I wouldn’t overly want to do swimwear. It’s not something I’m into. Of course I do pageants but I still stand on my own two feet I know what I’m doing.
Gavin revealed that her pageant success has allowed her to work with important charities including Live Out Loud, which supports young people coping with depression and bullying.
“I’m the Ultimate World Wide Team Ambassador for Live Out Loud Charity which is actually to do with suicide prevention, depression and anti-bullying because when I was younger I was bullied.
"That’s why I went into pageants. I was really the girl that was sat in the corner and didn’t want to talk to anybody, really enclosed in myself and I wasn’t confident at all,” she said.