A Clayton Secondary School grad has tossed her ball gown into the ring.
Vanya Shastri has entered a national pageant, Miss Canada Petite, which takes place in August in Toronto.
The pageant allows young women ages 18 to 29 who are no taller than 5’6” to compete.
The 19-year-old wants to use the spotlight of the pageant to raise awareness about forced marriage.
“This issue is very important to me not only as a young woman but also as person who understands basic human rights,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that many bright, vivacious, intelligent women of my community that have so much to offer are forced into unions with complete strangers against their will and may later face a life of domestic violence and sexual abuse. However if they don’t comply, their family’s may disown them or even result to honour based violence in order to cover the shame.”
The pageant is not her first foray into social issues. She was involved in her high school’s leadership team, equality groups that raised money for local and global causes and more.
“I enjoyed taking trips with my school to downtown Vancouver in the Hastings area to bring care packages to the homeless during the winter months. I was also a peer tutor for English and social studies as well as a freshmen mentor during my time at Clayton,” Shastri said.
Another reason she wanted to enter the pageant was to take advantage of an opportunity that didn’t always exist for those who didn’t fit the typical female model-like pageant requirements.
“I am 5’4” but when I was younger I watched the pageant with my mom and always hoped to one day be able to enter,” she said. “What stopped me was until now it just wasn’t the right time, I was preoccupied with high-school. I found out about the petite category simply while scrolling through Facebook and an ad specifically for Miss Petite Canada popped up, like it was fate.”
Shastri hopes that young women growing up after her get to see a range of people in the public eye.
“What I hope to gain from this pageant is the opportunity to help people see more diversity and representation on platforms like Miss Teen Canada. I want more young girls to be able to watch tv or read the paper and see someone who looks like them so they can relate and feel like their dreams are achievable,” she explained.
To get ready for the pageant, she’s trying to line up sponsors and support. Anyone interested can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. This pageant is open to women 18 to 29 who are up to 5’6” tall and who have never been married nor had children.
People can also vote for Vanya by visiting www.mcgpvoting.com/miss_canada-globelist.
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