You most likely weren’t required to complete a part on a job application asking for your height, weight, and a swimsuit photo the last time you applied for a job. On the Miss Universe Canada website’s “Become a Contestant” page, however, it may be found tucked away between the contestant’s birthdate and address. It’s incredible that in 2022, despite years of stretched sizing being more accepted and celebrities like Lizzo and Rihanna championing diversity in beauty, the infamously fatphobic competition still exists. The fact that Siera Bearchell participated in the competition at all, let alone used it as a platform for body positivity, is also unexpected.
Bearchell never paid much attention to pageants. a direct- She was a teenager and was on her way to medical school when a candle in her family’s apartment started a tissue box on fire. She was a student, athlete, and dancer from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. She claims, “I was the first to dial 911.” “We had nothing left. Even without renters insurance, we were unable to recover. Instead, the neighbourhood came together to support her family, starting fundraising campaigns and even housing them in a hotel while they looked for a new place to live.
After the fire, Bearchell noticed a Facebook advertisement for the Miss Teen Saskatchewan competition. Its message, “Be a leader in your community today,” appealed to her since she had been overwhelmed by the support from her neighbourhood, she said. She soon entered the pageant and won Miss Teen Canada before moving on to win Miss Teen Saskatchewan.
Bearchell was the ideal pageant candidate thanks to her enviable features, scholastic success, and drive to change the world. Taking advantage of her newly established public profile, she joined the Red Cross as a volunteer and ambassador, lecturing at events and schools about disaster preparedness and fire relief while drawing from her personal experiences. She chuckles and adds, “That sounds so hillbilly,” that “it was an opportunity to have a global platform that a girl like me from Moose Jaw would never have had otherwise.”
Siera Bearchell praises the sense of belonging in Saskatchewan, but she is torn about the small-town mentality toward anyone who is “different” because her family felt they couldn’t talk about their Metis history. Being Indigenous is something you want to hide in Moose Jaw, she explains. I’m still discovering my ancestry. I feel like an imposter because my mom is darker and has more pronounced characteristics while I am obviously white. I’m looking for a method to make it truly representative of who I am. Bearchell is happy to be the first person of Indigenous origin to place in the Miss Universe competition, despite the fact that she is still figuring out her Indigenous identity. She has been much more conscious of how she may use her legal training and her public position to further the interests of Canada’s Indigenous people since leaving Moose Jaw.
For Siera Bearchell, authenticity has evolved into a driving factor. She initially found it difficult when her physique changed and she moved from domestic to international competitions. “In my 20s, I transitioned from being the tiny young girl who got advice to eat a cheeseburger to becoming more athletic and voluptuous.” 2013 Miss Universe contestant Bearchell was advised that losing weight would increase her chances of winning. I was told to eat as little as possible, and if I was really struggling, once a day I may take a chicken breast with some greens.
Bearchell recalls that she was juggling her pageant career at the time with her legal studies at the University of Saskatchewan, and she admits that she frequently struggled to concentrate because she was mentally exhausted. Sometimes, she says, she would eat only one protein bar, eating half of it in the morning and the other half afterwards, and then work out for hours. “I had a hard time going to sleep at night because I was so hungry. But I firmly believed that doing this was essential to my success. Bearchell ultimately failed to get to the finalist round.
Even though she had a dazzling grin and a size 0 body at the time, Bearchell only remembers feeling terrible when she views pictures of herself from that period. She made the conscious decision to compete again in 2016, this time as a healthy, strong size 8 who had recently finished her first marathon. She is naturally competitive. “I decided to handle things my way,” she explains. I was proud of my body even though it may not have been what the pageant world desired. I aspired to be a role model for others and to be really authentic.
Despite her upbeat perspective, Bearchell encountered opposition right away. Her medium-sized frame (which is generally regarded as a medium by most merchants) led to comparisons to whales on social media in the world of pageants, where extra small is the only acceptable size. She was accused of promoting obesity after images of her in a bathing suit were spread mockingly by body shamers. It was so severe, she claims, that the Miss Universe committee called to see how she was doing.
However, Siera Bearchell made the decision to counter the stress and negativity on social media by posting affirmations of body positivity and self-acceptance. Even if she is the first to point out how crazy it is that a 30-inch waist is regarded as plus-size, her goal was to draw attention to the unhealthily rigid body standards of the competition and inspire upcoming beauty queens to develop stronger self-worth and self-love.
She won Miss Universe Canada in that year and finished ninth overall. Body confidence and body positivity ended up becoming her unintended platform, she claims. Yes, I dealt with trolls and received a lot of rude remarks, but I also received a lot of support and gratitude for being myself. She believes that the changing morals of society are directly reflected in her achievement. “Today, you can see all various body kinds at the beach.”
Bearchell knew she wouldn’t be able to start her legal career immediately away because she was expecting her first child when she passed another level, this time to receive her law degree. Instead, she began announcing her pregnancy to the social media following she had amassed throughout her years competing in pageants. She claims, “I adopted the assumptions surrounding pregnant women and their bodies. “I was surprised to discover that after spending nine months developing a human, the first topic of conversation is your body ‘bouncing back.’ You’re now a parent! You need to stop worrying about reducing the baby weight and focus on loving yourself and your child.
Her following increased along with her growing baby belly, and proposals for compensated partnerships started to show up. Bearchell used her legal training to her advantage while negotiating business deals and brand alliances. She now has 176 000 followers, three e-books published, mentorship programmes with appealing names like “Do You Want to Win the Crown?,” and a flourishing business. She unintentionally turned into a fashion icon for her followers in the process. She admits, “It took me a while to find my style. I am from a little place where standing out is uneasy. She cites Victoria Beckham as her fashion icon because “she’s feminine but with an edge.” She enjoys buying classic items and has lately been aware of resale thanks to platforms like Poshmark.
For her daughter Lilly, who is three years old, for the generations of females growing up with social media, and for her unborn child (she revealed she is expecting in March), Siera Bearchell thinks she is creating a better, more inclusive world. Gains are being made everywhere, from high fashion, where designers like Erdem are producing clothing up to size 22, to the body-conscious world of surfing, where @curvysurfergirl is giving the bird to the sport’s approved physique. And yes, Bearchell is aware that her size 6 frame is considered skinny at this time. She nevertheless understands what it’s like to endure harsh public criticism for the way her body is shaped and feels that nobody should ever have to go through what she did. The fundamental issue she is passionate about is giving women the confidence to be who they truly are, no matter what that may entail. Because we are all so much more than a swimsuit shot, regardless of our height, weight, or size.