KAY TAYLOR talks to Emma Oldroyd, who is launching a campaign to help women feel good about their body image.
A beauty queen is making it her mission to banish pageant stereotypes – and is launching a campaign to make women feel good about themselves in the process.
Ex-military girl Emma Oldroyd, from Brinscall, took part in the Miss Lancashire awards recently, and made it through to the final of Miss North West.
The 24-year-old experienced first-hand how much hard work the contestants go to – and it involved much more than make-up and hair extensions.
Raising money for charity is also a big part of the challenge, and Emma has become inspired to do even more for good causes close to her heart, including an armed forces charity.
But first, she’s taking on the mighty task of launching a feel-good campaign to help women feel positive about their body image – no matter what their shape or size.
“During the run up to Miss Lancashire, I posted a ‘selfie’ on my pageant page with no makeup on, no hair extensions and no photo filters, to prove a point that pageants aren’t all about standing there and looking pretty.”Emma Oldroyd
“I’ve always felt really strongly about how our generation are very ‘looks’ orientated, judgemental and to be quite honest, quite fickle,” she explains.
“If you are fat, thin, tall, small, curvy, slim, wear lots of makeup or are natural, it really doesn’t matter.
“Even the most beautiful people in the world are judged and have insecurities.
“I feel that celebrities and social media don’t help. We’ve all seen edited, Photoshopped, beautiful photographs of our favourite celebs (which give us mere mortals an unrealistic expectation of how we should look), but when you see a photo of someone famous without makeup, in gym sweats with messy hair; how judged are they? We’ve seen the stories for all the young girls and women out there to read the nasty words. Readers often somehow feel like that’s how people will treat them if they were to be seen out in the streets or in a photo looking the same.
“That’s why I’m planning to start my own campaign, ‘Bare With Me’ which will hopefully help grab the attention of many women local and afar, to try and stop the pressures of social media expectations and our generation’s idea of how we should look.”
Emma is starting to approach high schools to give talks to teenage girls about self confidence, and is also taking to social media to promote ‘confidence classes’.
Emma, who works as a receptionist at the Pines Hotel in Clayton-le-Woods, adds: “During the run up to Miss Lancashire, I posted a ‘selfie’ on my pageant page with no makeup on, no hair extensions and no photo filters, to prove a point that pageants aren’t all about standing there and looking pretty, and pageant girls aren’t ‘Barbie dolls’ or ‘fake’ (which are names you always hear from people who are usually oblivious to how the competitions work).
“I received a lot of response and ‘likes’ which is what kick-started me into wanting to make other women feel empowered by being their natural selves.”
Emma hasn’t always felt so comfortable in her own skin though.
“In the past I’ve been subject to feeling ugly and ‘rough’ when I have been out without make-up,” she says. “But I’ve also been called ‘fake’ and ‘all make-up’ when I have spent hours trying to make myself look how I think would be acceptable. You can’t win either way!
“I also have run into bathrooms on occasion to put make-up on because of comments before; looking back I’m disappointed in myself for that as I should have held my head high and carried on.”
Emma now sees the value in helping others, and wants to target teenage girls in her campaign, who she believes are the most vulnerable.
She was named as ‘Miss Lancashire Eco 2015/16’ in the recent Miss Lancashire awards, for making the best economically and environmentally friendly outfit.
And now, she wants to take her feel-good mission further with her ‘Bare With Me’ initiative.
“My aim is not to tell girls to never wear make-up,” she explains. “But I want to give people the confidence to be comfortable in their own skin and appreciate themselves when they are natural, flaws and all. I personally love make-up and how you can create different looks when using products, but there is nothing better than being fresh faced with your hair tied back – and why shouldn’t people feel the comfort and relief they feel at home when they are out in public?”
She adds: “Unfortunately I can’t stop bullying, suicides or cyber bullying (as much as I’d like to) but if I make a difference and give confidence to just a few girls or women and empower them, that’ll be enough for me.”
Since competing in Miss Lancashire, Emma has landed a number of modelling jobs, and has been shooting most weeks since the competition for clothing companies across the North West.
Emma, who worked as a caterer in The Royal Air Force for four years, also credits her time in the forces for her determination.
“I joined up as I wanted to be the first female in my family to have been in the military,” she says. “The military makes you grow as a person, no matter what your age or sex, and even though it can be tough (going on tours, missing things back home, and injuries) you’ll never have the experiences you have in the forces in civilian life.
“Half of me regrets leaving the forces, but I am very fortunate that at 24 I can say I’ve ticked off four major items off my bucket list; joining the RAF; doing a pageant; travelling; and modelling.
“I am committed to raising funds for Help for Heroes as the charity has a place in my heart. I really want to help all those in need.”