The Miss Universe Great Britain competition is held annually to choose a representative from somewhere within Great Britain to take part in the Miss Universe pageant. After an initial online application there are the interviews – then the girls are shortlisted down to just 40 contestants, one of which is our very own law professional and previous Miss Gibraltar runner up, Joseanne Bear.
Joseanne is a smart cookie; she was called to the bar last year and qualified as a barrister, and now works as a courtroom advocate around the UK.
The idea is big, the aim is big, and I’m hoping the results will be big.
What gave you the push to sign up for MUGB?
JB: When I went to Miss International, the girl from England had entered MUGB the previous year. I didn’t consider it myself too much, but after I went on the website and started reading through everything, I thought, “Oh I can enter this!”.
The main focus of MUGB is all about female empowerment, and charity. I genuinely felt my values really matched up with those of the pageant. I started watching YouTube videos of what the girls did last year and decided it was something I wanted to get involved in.
What are contestants judged on?
It sounds cliché, but it genuinely is about more than just the looks! We’ve had a few pageant preparation days, but they all tell us it’s about the interview – if you do a good interview and the judges like who you are, it will carry you through the rest of it.
Interviews take place in private before the show so the public don’t get to see that part. The interview held the day before the competition counts for 1/3 of the marks. The final 5 girls will then get asked a question on the spot, with no preparation.
The standard is sky high – everyone has really good motivation and is taking advantage of the preparation stage. One girl has even cycled across Europe on a fundraising mission to promote the female empowerment message.
Tell us more about the charity element of MUGB.
All funds up until pageant day goes to the A-sisterhood Foundation – a non-profit organisation that acts as an umbrella foundation for numerous female-related charities. For example, they have a café that helps victims of acid attacks in India by integrating them back into the community through employment. There are more; one focuses on female genital mutilation in London, another for homeless women in Wales, and one that funds the training of female rangers in Kruger National Park (part of the protection of the Rhino Anti-Poaching Unit).
The winner of MUGB can choose one female-focused charity for funds to be distributed to. Me? I would choose female human rights. This has been my focus over gym, or makeup… I haven’t even got a dress yet!
I’m a strong believer in stepping out of your comfort zone. Challenging yourself is the best way to grow.
You recently set up She Will Achieve. What is it all about?
She Will Achieve is a female empowerment community. The idea is big, the aim is big, and I’m hoping the results will be big. I had always wanted to do something like SWA, but the MUGB platform provided me with the boost I needed to finally go for it.
One of my objectives is to have a series of blogs on the website – an archive of women globally showing the inspiring things they’ve done in their life. Secondly, I want to host challenging events such as our recent female self-defence class in collaboration with the local women’s self defence association. I’m a strong believer in stepping out of your comfort zone. Challenging yourself is the best way to grow personally and develop.
The next thing I’m doing is starting a new campaign (which I hope goes viral!) called ‘This is my challenge, what is yours?’. The idea is you donate a minimum of £1 to my GoFundMe, and post a photo or video of you doing something that challenges you with the hashtag #thisismychallengewhatisyours. It can be as simple as a no-makeup selfie, or something done on holiday, something in the future, anything! Once uploaded, tag someone to encourage them to take part and keep the challenge going. On July 6th as part of my SWA challenge, I will be abseiling off the tallest permanent abseiling tower in the world!
I have also started a workshop called Know Your Rights, aiming to teach young boys and girls human rights in a fun and interactive way.
Sometimes I think should I have learned to walk before I run, but it just happened – the ideas kept coming!
Who or what led to you being such an advocate for female rights and empowerment?
For me, solo female backpacking is where I felt the most empowered in my life. Even though I have a partner, I still want opportunities to travel on my own. There’s no better feeling than arriving in a new country on your own and thinking “Everything I do is going to be because of, and for, me”. When you travel in groups you can fall victim to tagging along. When you’re alone, everything you achieve is down to you.
This is me, like it or not, take it or leave it
What do you make of the Miss Gibraltar organisers’ (and those of Miss World in 2017) decision to do away with the bikini round?
I respect any organisations decision to do this. In all honesty don’t feel like bikini round is necessary to be a title holder, but I view it (especially in MUGB) as more of a focus on a physically fit body – trying to encourage fitness in that sense. It’s also about how confident you can be in your own skin. It’s not like the old days, where contestants’ waists were measured with a tape measure!
Personally, I feel it’s empowering. This is me, like it or not, take it or leave it. Rather than just your figure, it’s about how well you carry yourself on stage. A lot of the time you’re looking at the girls’ facial expressions and posture. You can have most amazing body, but if you’re shy or not performing, it won’t work to your advantage. Confidence is key – it shows you’re a person who will be able to carry the title.
What is Gibraltar doing right for females, and how can we improve?
I think we should put human rights into mainstream education from a young age, just helping to promote core values at first and then introducing concepts to human rights as they get older. Even a lot of adults don’t know what they are – that’s crazy to me. It’s a form of self defence.
Overall, we’re very lucky in Gibraltar. We have a huge support network. I was fortunate enough to go on an Erasmus year during university which was funded by our government. That’s one thing that sparked the idea of solo travelling in me. The government also funded my visit to Washington – an amazing experience. Gibraltar definitely helped shape who I am today – I’m very thankful for those opportunities.
Gibraltar definitely helped shape who I am today.
What advice do you have for other young women who want to follow your stiletto-steps into the world of pageantry?
I’ve been training with Miss Universe Great Britain 2014. She says you’ve got to make your brand, and think of your core values – and don’t deviate from them. For me they are: Law, because that’s my profession; travel, because that’s my passion; and community, because those are my roots.
I want to use MUGB to promote these values and make a difference. Some people might ask “Why be in a beauty pageant to do that?”. But end of the day, it’s a platform; It’s how you use it that matters.
Joseanne bear is the first ever MUGB finalist to come from Gibraltar. Show your support by voting via: missuniversegb.co.uk/voting. Keep up to date with SWA via shewillachieve.com or via their Facebook page.
Tips for confidence:
• Try to step outside of your comfort zone as much as you can.
• Focus on your strengths. Although we want to strengthen our weaknesses, pursuing something you’re good at can open a lot of doors. We all look up to someone and think we want to be like them, but that person might want to be like you! We’re all different and can learn something from each other. If you haven’t discovered your thing yet, get out there – you might find something you like.
• Try! Even if you think you can’t do something, give it a go. A lot more is achievable when you just take that first step.