Tiaras, runways, swimsuits, heavy makeup, vacuous speeches – all associated by many with the pageant world.
Miss Teen BC Shalom Reimer wants to shatter these images, and be a role model at the same time.
After winning the Miss Teen BC crown July 5 at Chief Sepass Theatre, the 17-year-old Fort Langley resident plans to represent this province at the Miss Teen Canada pageant, running from March 2 to 6 in Laval, Que.
And she’s doing so on a platform of respect, for herself and others.
“Pageantry is interesting,” Reimer said, adding, “I don’t believe in swimsuit competitions – I believe they are degrading to women, and not only that, it doesn’t represent women well. Even watching the Miss Universe Pageant, it doesn’t click with me why that’s even needed.”
A Grade 12 student at Surrey’s Pacific Academy, Reimer has her eye on becoming a high school teacher, with a major in English and a minor in theatre and drama.
In the meantime, she’s following the path of her mom Caroline, who at 16 won Miss Teen Saskatoon in 1988 and went to the Miss Teen Canada pageant, and the next year captured the Miss Saskatoon crown and was the second runner up to Miss Canada in 1990.
“She wants me to have a firm strength in who I am,” Reimer said, about her mom. “Having that background gives me better purpose for what I am doing.”
“My name means ‘Shalom’ which means peace, so that kind of stuck with me,” Reimer added.
With her role as Miss Teen BC comes responsibilities. Reimer has enjoyed volunteering for local charities, such as The Ronald McDonald House, Terry Fox Run, Cops for Cancer, Global Fire Run for Leukemia, and the Variety Show of Hearts Telethon.
At her school, she started a group for Grade 6 to 8 girls, to discuss, she said, “real life issues,” such as self-defeated thoughts, cutting, bullying, suicide, depression and provide strategies to overcome them.
Her own personal experiences drives Reimer to be a role model.
“I went through middle school and faced different things, like friends changing, people changing, and myself changing,” said Reimer, big sister to 15-year-old Keteirah, and 12-year-old Corban. “It was really hard. I knew I could always look to my parents or my teachers but I really wanted that high school mentor that I could look up to.”
Through weekly meetings, she strives to guide younger teens to become confident and strong leaders in their school community, Reimer noted.
“If I were to be crowned Miss Teen Canada, I would use the platform to be a positive example and take the program to other schools to develop leaders nationally,” she added.
She started the group after seeing a younger girl in a hallway at her school. Tears welled in the girl’s eyes, so Reimer approached her.
“I talked with her, making the decision in my head that I could be late for class, or I can talk with this girl and take that step of faith,” Reimer said. “When I talked with her, she told me she had gone through severe depression and cutting and [when] she came up to me two weeks later… the scars were healing, her relationship with her mom was strengthened and that even pushed me further to continue doing this hub.”
Looking ahead to early March, competing in Miss Canada is an expensive undertaking: Reimer figures she’ll need $950 plus taxes which covers her meals, accommodations and pageant activities for the five days/four nights she’ll be in Quebec. As well, airfare will cost between $900 to $1000 or 5,000 Air Miles (plus taxes).
She’s reaching out to local businesses for help.
Reimer said businesses “interested in sponsoring my pageant fees, please contact me further as you would be given the opportunity to advertise your business nationally.”
As well, Reimer said, cash donations “would go towards expenses such as outfits for the five-day pageant event.”
Anyone interested in helping Reimer can email her at email@example.com.
Reflecting on the Miss Teen BC competition, Reimer was drawn to the fact it wasn’t a beauty pageant in the traditional sense.
“There’s no swimsuit portion, they replace it with sportswear,” Reimer said. “The pageant is more community based, more so than a beauty pageant, which really stuck out to me.”
Reimer said going to Miss Teen Canada would be a great experience.
“I don’t see it so much as I need to win this award, because it’s going to fulfill me, it’s more the experience and what I can bring back to B.C. and my hometown,” Reimer said. “They teach you so many things: there are workshops and fun stuff you get to do down there.”