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Why I started a magazine on pageants

Reigning Ms Diamond UK Charlie Lister runs pageant magazine Crowns and Sashes. She is also currently studying a mentoring course to help guide the future generation into pageants.

Here she shares her story on why she got into pageants and why she wants to help others to do the same.

What made you first want to get into pageants?

I actually got scouted for a pageant back in 2012 but as I was a mum I couldn’t compete. But I was interested in finding out more so I applied to one that let mums compete and I loved it!

I loved getting involved with charities and meeting women who I wouldn’t normally meet. At that pageant in 2012, I actually met one of my best friends. I didn’t win but I loved it and competed again and won my regional title.

Since then I have competed on and off I’ve won three national titles including Ms Diamond U.K. and competed internationally once as well as raising over £20k for various charities.

As I won the title of Ms Diamond U.K. in August 2021, I will be heading to Las Vegas in 2022 to represent the U.K. in an international pageant called Regency International.

Read more: From beauty pageants to becoming a barrister

What misconceptions are there about pageants?

I think people think it’s just standing on stage with huge hair in a bikini and saying world peace. Yes, some systems still have a swimwear round but it’s so much more than that. It’s getting involved in your local community, raising money for charity and using your voice to make a difference about something that is close to you. I try to raise awareness of cancer and end-of-life care after losing four grandparents to cancer.

What would you say to people who would like to get involved but don’t know where to start?

Research is the key to pageants. When I first competed there wasn’t a lot of them around. Now there are loads and there is a pageant system for everyone.

So research a system that matches your ethos. For example, if you’re into eco-projects choose an eco pageant.

Speak to previous queens, find out the rounds, check if it involves on-stage questions or speeches. Find the right one for you.

Why did you start Crowns and Sashes Magazine?

The magazine is about celebrating pageant women across the world but this is a hobby.

During 2019, I was taking part in charity fun runs, arranging charity days in my workplace, volunteering at my local children’s hospice and also did a bungee jump to raise money for charity.

But lockdowns put a stop to all this. In lockdown one, I created my pageant blog where I interviewed 150 queens from across the world as well as taking part in virtual events to continue my fundraising efforts.

Then during lockdown two, I decided to strengthen the knowledge of my pageant platform by completing two Level 2 college courses in End of Life Care and Understanding Cancer Support.

I then got the college bug and completed a number of courses in digital skills. This led me to create Crowns and Sashes Magazine as a way to not only continue to share queens’ journeys but as a way to fundraise for the Samaritans.

Read more: Miss Brighton on pageants and rugby

What have you achieved with Crowns and Sashes and what’s next?

Eight issues have been released and over £1,700 raised for Samaritans. The way the magazine raises money is by asking for a £2 donation to be featured and a £5 donation to enter the front cover competition which is then judged by different pageant queens and experts each month.

When the first edition was released it was U.K. only but now we have featured women from America, Canada, Greece and even Cuba. It’s become that big I had to get a team to help me with social media and filmed interviews which again a £2 donation is required.

In the future I want Crowns and Sashes to be one of the biggest pageant media outlets. There are plans for a podcast, mentor programme for the future pageant contestants in the U.K. as well as an awards night.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Never give up on your dreams work hard and don’t let anyone tear you down.

You can follow Crowns and Sashes Magazine on Instagram, at @CrownsandSashesMagazine.

Bex Bastable
Bex Bastable
Bex is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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