You don’t have to be a six foot tall glamour model to dazzle on the catwalk.
That’s the message from Peterborough’s newly-crowned beauty queen Emma Mitchell who measures up at 5 foot 2in and battled with confidence issues as a teenager.
Emma (22) of Cardea is the new Miss Catwalk Perfect UK - despite calling herself an average girl from Peterborough - but she insists pageants have moved with the times, with the winner not crowned solely on their appearance.
“I think that’s definitely what it used to be, but it’s massively changing now,” she said.
Judges are now more likely to comment on the contestant’s personality based on interviews both before and after they take to the runway, said Emma, adding: “Being told you have a natural character is lovely to hear.”
The former Hampton College pupil wore braces on her teeth for four years and had pigmentations on her skin when she was younger, but she wants to show people that a beauty queen is not just a photogenic, six-foot model.
She said: “One of the main reasons I did this is my best friend told me to enter. I said ‘I can’t do anything like that’,
“I’ve never really been that confident about myself. When I went through school I was not happy with the way I looked.
“I’ve worked with teenage girls at secondary school who say they do not like the way they look, and I think ‘you look absolutely fine’.
“I want to show them they can do this as well.”
A “gobsmacked” Emma triumphed at the Greetham Community Centre in Oakham after coming through the white dress, denim, ‘wow wear’ and evening gown rounds, as well as answering questions from the judges.
She also won the titles of Miss Publicity, Miss Charity and Miss Congeniality.
Describing the moment her name was read out for the top prize, she said: “I was really overwhelmed, it was just so surreal. I kind of stood there and could not stop grinning.”
Emma is an apprenticeship officer at the West Anglia Training Association but is getting involved in the community as Miss Catwalk Perfect - including accompanying the Deputy Mayor of Peterborough, Councillor Keith Sharp, at the Bridge Fair and sausage supper. And she hopes to prove that there is more to being a beauty queen than simply how you appear.
She said “Now I’ve got this role I want to continue going out in the community and you can’t do that with just looks. I’m hoping to raise more money, particularly for Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall.”
As for her confidence problems, they too are starting to disappear.
“I’m more accepting of myself now but I would be lying if I said they had completely gone. It’s never something you completely get over,” added Emma.