Our features editor, Yasmeen Frasso, recently spoke to Sophie King to talk about her experiences in the world of beauty pageants. Having recently been crowned as Miss Surrey 2016, 27 year old Sophie is now going to be taking part in the Miss Great Britain finals.
What inspired you to run for Miss Surrey 2016? Had you had any prior experiences with beauty pageants or was it completely out of the blue?
Last year I had a very close call when I contracted Meningitis B and Septicaemia. After getting out of intensive care and returning home I have felt a new lease of life. I now really appreciate that we are not invincible and we must make the most of each day. I tend to say yes to everything now. I had always been interested in pageants, and I just thought ‘Why not!?’ so I applied and here I am today.
How did you manage balancing the competition with your life in general?
I am very organised and disciplined. I think if you put your mind to it you can achieve so much, and I am completely dedicated to putting my all into being Miss Surrey and hopefully doing our county proud.
There are obviously a lot of misconceptions associated with beauty pageants, how much does the reality differ from the stereotype?
I think like all stereotypes, the reality is quite different. We have all seen Miss Congeniality… The girls I have met have all been so lovely and really supportive of each other. It’s great to see so many women getting together to support each other, and to empower and push themselves beyond their comfort zone to achieve something special.
What would you say is the main thing you have gained from competing?
The main thing I have gained is confidence. I think if you can get up on stage in a bikini and enjoy every minute of it, then you can pretty much do anything! I have met so many people across Surrey, visiting radio stations, charities and community events; being Miss Surrey has given me a platform to raise awareness about Meningitis, and talk about the things I am passionate about – it’s a privilege to have this unique opportunity.
Pressures exist in the beauty and fashion world to look and behave a certain way, did you feel much negative pressure to conform to the supposed norms and change things about yourself to fit in?
I think the only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself; to keep fit, eat healthily and respect myself and my body. I’m not sure what the norms would be, everyone is so different and I think the competition allows you to celebrate being yourself.
How did you react when you found out that you had won Miss Surrey 2016? What was the first thing that you did?
The first thing I did was call my mum and let her know. My family have been so supportive and have watched my journey with curiosity, I think I took them by surprise initially when I said I was competing, but it is an amazing feeling to know you are making your family proud.
Tell me a bit about the charity work you’ll be doing this summer. How has being crowned Miss Surrey 2016 influenced this?
I will be abseiling down Epsom racecourse in a few weeks to raise awareness for the Harrisons’s Fund [a charity for individuals with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy which causes muscles to severely weaken over time]. I am also running the Men’s Health Magazine 10K obstacle course around Wembley Stadium to raise money for my charity MakeSomeNoise. This charity supports small and local initiatives which struggle to get their voice heard. You can donate £1 to my charity campaign by texting SURY71 £1 to 70070
Have you got any plans for the run up towards Miss Great Britain?
I will be doing as much work as I can with local organisations in the run up to the Miss GB finals in September. Last week I was lucky enough to open Ashtead Village Day, organised by Ashtead Rotary, which was an amazing experience.I’ll be posting everything on Facebook, Twitter (@MissSurrey2016) and Instagram (@officialsophieking), so you can follow my journey on there!