Miss Wales contestant proud of the overlooked aims of beauty pageants

Cardiff student says Miss World qualifier has boosted her confidence and is helping women’s charities

A CARDIFF postgraduate student, who used to be against beauty pageants, has entered the Miss Wales contest after researching the work of the organisation.

Accounting and Finance MA student, Mia Newton-Howes, says she applied for the Miss Wales pageant to improve her confidence, empower other women and raise money for charity.  

Mia Newton-Howes | photo provided by Mia Newton-Howes

Miss Newton-Howes, 21, said: “There is quite an outdated perception about beauty pageants in general, before I researched it, I thought that it consists of women being judged on their looks pitted against each other. But it’s about working together to support femininity. I think if you’re not informed about that people can see it as quite toxic. 

“The reason I went for it was because I was quite reserved. This time last year I would never have done anything like this.”  

The finalists for the Miss Wales pageant will be training to be ambassadors for Women’s Aid next month, learning how to spot domestic abuse and sexual violence in their communities, homes and workplaces. 

Paula Abbandonato, the director of Miss Wales said: “This is what people don’t know or choose not to know. That’s the sort of thing we do. I think none of us should apologise for being young and gorgeous. 

“I think women should be allowed to be women. If that means playing on a rugby field – marvellous. If that means being on a stage in a sparkly frock – fantastic. And if you want to be one of those girls who wants to do both – great.”

“We’re feminists in heels,” she added. 

The Miss Wales 2022 final is a three-day event set to take place in May at Riverfront Theatre in Newport and Holland House Hotel in Cardiff.  

The first day is an empowerment workshop where the finalists do activities to boost their confidence, facing their fears and break barriers. In previous years contestants have had to walk over broken glass. 

A Miss Wales charity ball in aid of Beauty With A Purpose, the Miss World charity, is held the next day. The final day is a catwalk event in front of an audience with three rounds: a red dress, a Welsh dress and evening wear. The finalists will then face a panel of judges and be interviewed.  

Mia Newton-Howes | photo provided by Mia Newton-Howes

“I don’t feel like I am competing against the other finalists at all, I feel like I am just there to make friends. It doesn’t matter who wins, we’re all there for the same reason. It feels like a team,” said Miss Newton-Howes. 

The rules of entry are:  

  • Be Welsh or of Welsh heritage 
  • Be a British passport holder 
  • Be at least 16½ years and no more than 26 by the time of the Miss World entry date
  • Never have been married or have had children 

Ms Abbandonato says Miss Wales is a franchise and has to follow the Miss World rules.