Miss Pakistan World Areej Chaudhry says beauty pageants provide a platform to advocate for worthy causes
Miss Pakistan World Areej Chaudhry has competed in some of the world's largest beauty pageants — more recently Miss Eco International, hosted in Egypt. The model and actor spoke to Images, offering a peek into her world.
Contradicting the stereotype that pageants are all about the way a woman looks, Chaudhry said, "Beauty pageants are not only about beauty — [they provide] a strong platform to raise your voice internationally and nationally." The model revealed she has always "wanted to be a queen with a purpose", which includes helping others and raising her voice over environmental health concerns, among other issues.
She said beauty pageants are actually about "beauty with brains" and your whole personality plays a part. The model said this experience makes you stronger, shaping you into a woman who "stands up for the causes of concern." She explained how her purpose is larger than it appears, "I am always interested in building a softer image of Pakistan internationally and also helping everyone, not only in my country, but also internationally. So I decided to break the stereotypes and get along with the beauty pageants."
"I really feel proud representing my country internationally. When your name is called not with your name but with your country's name, every second you feel proud of it," said the Sitam actor. She explained that all participating countries share accommodation which leads to bonding and "you make them learn about your country and culture." Chaudhry said she feels honoured being the first woman "directly from the soil of Pakistan [who] went to represent the country internationally."
When asked if she's ever been in an uncomfortable situation at the pageants, the model said "never." "Pageants have [such a] comfortable environment that you feel like [you're at] home. And they take care of everything — accommodation, pick and drop, and all the tours in their country [plus] food. A special protocol is provided and security is always with you wherever you go." Praising the pageant organisation, the model mentioned there is an added advantage of making friends all over the world.
Commenting on governmental support, the model expressed some grief. "I had this problem and felt sad and stronger at the same time because I didn't get any support from my country or any organisation. But still I stood stronger and represented very well alone — I am proud of that." Though Chaudhry got to the other side on her own, she admitted it was "difficult" and requested the government and organisations to provide support and respect.
Chaudhry added that generally beauty pageants are not backed by governmental support. "It’s not [on] a government's agenda," she said. However, she named the countries that do promote it, including the Philippines, India, Vietnam and Thailand. She said it helped "promote the tourism industry and bring [a good] name to the country."
Drawing parallels with Pakistan, the model said, "In Pakistan every one of us is unique and beauty is not considered a luxury." She explained how people in the North look European and people in the West look Middle Eastern or Persian, which explains the uniqueness. "And so we have too much beauty and all kinds of beauty," she said.
Chaudhry said building a softer image of Pakistan is part of what she hopes to achieve by participating in pageants. "At least they know that Pakistan is participating and fighting for the good cause as my advocacy is to plant more tress and to be a voice [for] the voiceless, which includes animals, orphans and others." By raising her voice, she got a chance to meet different media people and was even offered a role in a South African movie.
"I achieved a lot — I [visited] so many countries, lived [in] them and came to know about their cultures, norms and values. I have made so many friends from all over the world and the international media recognises me as Miss Pakistan, which [is a] really proud moment," she added.