Leiela have a proud history of supporting charity events – and in years of late have chosen to get behind the Mrs Australia Pageant. Far from being a ‘Toddlers in Tiaras’ or ‘Miss Universe’ style event, Mrs Australia rewards participants who have a strong bent towards charity and community participation. The Mrs Australia organisation supports W.I.N. (Women In Need International) who are committed to enhancing women’s emotional health, self esteem and the promotion of a healthy body image. Mrs Australia’s state finalists support W.I.N.’s goals which include running the ‘Raise Your Standards’ program for students throughout Australia.Today Leiela are proud to feature the current Mrs Australia, Karen Gee. In her interview, Karen focuses on her charity of choice – The Butterfly Foundation, as well as her journey to becoming Mrs Australia. Read on!
The first I heard about the Mrs Australia Pageant was when my amazing 13 year old son Oscar noticed it advertised. It wasn’t something I ever imaged myself entering! When I investigated the pageant and realised great emphasis was placed on inner beauty and being the best you can be, I decided to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone, to be a part of Women In Need Australia – a truly wonderful charity founded by Dr Tracy Kemble in 1996.
The Butterfly Foundation is Australia’s largest national charity supporting those with eating disorders and their carers. It is an absolute priority to me to emphasise the importance of loving who you are – to live in a world that celebrates, health, well being and diversity. Mrs Australia Globe promotes women discovering their inner beauty and focusing on the importance of oneself.
I have many roles as the current Mrs Australia Globe. I choose to ensure I align myself with people, businesses and corporations that have common goals and focus on things that I am passionate about. At the moment I am part of the BMW Sydney Carnival and my role as a face of the carnival has brought focus to Mrs Australia Globe, enabling me to reach out to millions and send a positive message. It has also allowed me to network with some incredible people and to be able to educate those on the importance of self esteem. Through being the face of BMW Sydney Carnival and Mrs Australia Globe, I have had the opportunity to speak in public, on TV and at media launches. I’ve been in Australia’s most recognised papers, presented prestigious awards and hosted an event that supports a nationally recognized charity.
I feel fortunate to have worn some amazing gowns! Although it is always wonderful to do so, what I wear certainly does not define who I am or the message I deliver of intrinsic beauty. Every woman feels incredible when they wear a lovely gown, and I always embrace and am grateful to those who are generous enough to allow me to showcase their vision of design. The Leiela collection is just so beautiful! One thing that certainly stood out at the finals for Mrs Australia Globe were the variety of gowns supplied by Leiela – they were just incredibly elegant. Every lady looked and felt beautiful – and they were proud to wear such a designer.
I really believe you have to be yourself. When I entered this competition I promised myself not to compare myself to others, not to feel intimidated by others, to be myself and to enjoy the journey. The moment you start trying to be a second rate version of someone else – it is no longer genuine. Stay true to yourself and allow those around you to love your beautiful qualities. In today’s society so much emphasis is placed on being perfect and looking a certain way. This is not achievable – certainly not when you are trying to compare yourself with those in magazines. Pictures are airbrushed, the lighting is right, the angles are precise – I proudly promote that I am wonderfully imperfect and would not have it any other way.
I am honoured to be the official spokesperson and ambassador for Women In Need Australia. Women In Need Australia was launched in 2010 and is an outreach of Women In Need International, which was founded by Dr Tracey Kemble in 1996 after she escaped a life of domestic abuse. Women In Need is committed to the emotional health, personal self esteem, empowerment and promotion of a healthy body image for all women. Women In Need offers programmes free of charge to women focusing on self esteem. I am currently building relationships which enable me to introduce Women In Need to new communities. I am very proud to be a part of this, and know that I can dramatically help with the growth of this wonderful charity with the support of my networks.
The experience of being Mrs Australia has literally been life changing. Not just because I won the title, but because I proved to myself that by stepping out of my comfort zone I was able to achieve and accomplish goals I never thought possible. I decided from the beginning of my journey that I would do my all to promote being the best you can be, focussing on the qualities of building confidence, meeting new people and taking the emphasis off outer beauty. I know one thing for sure – if you shine from the inside by being loyal, generous and willing, outer beauty will come without trying. It will be a result of passion within!
Would absolutely have to be the reward of the crown! But having said this, I feel that every single lady in the competition was very deserving. I don’t see that I won it because I was the best, I felt I won the competition because those that were judging could see the passion and vision I have, the importance I place on positive body image. In terms of achievements – there are so many, more than I could possibly mention. The opportunities placed in front of me have been unbelievable and are escalating at a fast pace – I am however, very conscious of ensuring I am approachable and will always make myself available to speak with people, businesses and corporations – big or small – everyone is important.
Two difficulties – I wouldn’t use the word difficult, as I love a challenge and challenges enable you to grow and learn as a person. Some weeks I make hundreds of calls to businesses to help charities I support, and I do get the “no sorry I cannot help you out”. I accept that it is never personal, I am always polite and thankful for their time. You never know – these same people may choose to support your cause another time – never burn your bridges! There are people out there that will say you can’t, I always say watch me! Another area I have had to adjust is personal/work balance – I spend a lot of time working and attending events in my role and it is a full time job. My children are now at school, and I have been a very devoted Mother and Wife (still am!), however it is now my time to put myself out there and help others by being a positive role model. I try to include my family as much as I can in decision making, in fact my husband has just recently taken some leave from work to support me in my role as the face of BMW Sydney Carnival. To have the support of family is so important – this support allows me to focus and shine at events, photoshoots, presentations, media and everything else that goes with the role.
Life-changing (that is two but I put them together)!