Personality Pageant winners, Puneet Chhina who was crowned Miss Teen Personality Canada 2023 and Charlotte Benitz who was crowned Miss Personality Canada 2023 are touring central Alberta and speaking to local schools including Ècole Camille J. Lerouge School in Red Deer.
Personality Pageants were founded by 18-year-old Sophia Lia who is from the Gull Lake area. Lia is a pageant queen herself as well as the Editor in Chief of her own mental health magazine, Sophia Lia Magazine.
“Personality Pageants is an organization that I started almost three years ago now. The whole purpose of it is to create an opportunity for young women to grow, to gain confidence, to really express themselves, and share the matters that are important to them in an atmosphere, where they're not being judged on looks, they're not being judged on height, size, how expensive their dress is, none of that. It's fully on who they are, what they do, and the person they are,” explained Lia.
Personality Pageants began in 2021 in a more localized virtual format but kept growing until it became a national development. Lia wanted to inspire and create an inviting environment for teenage girls and young women.
Lia also had a goal of removing negative stereotypes from pageantry.
“I know there's skepticism around it. I know that 100 per cent, but we're just working really hard to break those barriers and really make people see that we are trying to be different and trying to really provide an opportunity where girls can feel like they belong,” explained Lia.
The title holders Puneet Chhina, and Charlotte Benitz are sharing their pageant experiences as well as how they embody confidence, and upkeep their mental health with the local community.
“The title holders are the whole foundation of the organization. What they do, what they promote, and that's why it's so important to us that they really have strong values, strong beliefs, something that they really stand for because we are not a beauty pageant," added Lia.
Both Chhina and Benitz say the pageant experience has helped them connect with their special interests and direction in life.
“I got to really find what ignites a flame in me essentially. I love to volunteer and I love to tell people about that experience, but I was never able to tell them. ‘This is what I am so extremely passionate about.’ Now winning the title, I feel like that specific thing of young women's mental health and talking about all that [and to] have a platform where I can do that, is just amazing,” said Chhina.
Bennitz has a special interest in women’s health after dealing with her own hormonal condition since she was 14 or 15-years-old.
“I wanted to create something to support them and then all women who deal with the kind of neglected health issues in the healthcare sector. So now, I've had the opportunity through the pageant to rea. lly reach a wide audience and connect with people and impact them and really find my passion and develop it and put that time into it,” said Benitz.
Charlotte noted that her special interest in women’s health has inspired her to pursue nursing.
Charlotte and Puneet will be special guests at the upcoming provincial Personality Pageant in February. You can find more information on Personality Pageants by clicking here to visit their website.