A local teen recently took home the crown in the Miss Teenager Canada National pageant, beating out 39 other candidates from across Ontario.
Jaclyn Bowdery, of Bradford, won the title in the Miss Teenager Ontario 2021 pageant this past July, sending her through to compete at the national level for Miss Teen Canada last month. The preliminaries ran at the end of August at Horseshoe Valley Resort.
“It was a really safe and comfortable experience,” says Bowdery, who added the contestants all had to provide negative COVID tests before arriving to the hotel.
Bowdery says the contestants spent time getting to know one another through team building activities throughout the week including treetop trekking, swimming, karaoke, and a pyjama party complete with a bonfire and roasted marshmallows.
"It was really fun doing it with all the other girls – we just bonded and made so many memories together," she says of her experience.
The girls also participated in a video and photo shoot, with their hair and make-up done.
“I've done photo shoots in the past, but this time we got to use a fan and I felt very supermodel. It was really fun,” she says.
On the Friday of competition week, the judges held the first round of preliminaries and scored the girls on their evening gowns and active wear, and asked each contestant a series of four questions in relation to their platform.
Bowdery chose the same platform from when she won Miss Teen Ontario – suicide awareness in youth.
“I felt very overwhelmed and personally I’m not the best at public speaking, but I just tried to bring myself up and just let it go but strive to do the best that I can,” she says.
To Bowdery’s surprise, she was one of 19 contestants chosen to move on to the final round of the competition.
The next day, the girls prepared for a new part of the pageant that was not included during the provincial competition – talent night.
Judges watched as contestants showed off their skills in singing, piano playing, and ballet.
Having a background in dance, Bowdery performed a lyrical piece for the judges.
“I love performing and dancing in front of everyone," she says. “Lyrical is very emotional and tells a story through dance. … You can express your emotions especially through lyrical movement.”
On the final night of the pageant, the girls relocated to the Orangeville Fair Grounds where the top 21 contestants (there was a tie) competed.
The judges narrowed down the top 21 down to the top 10, and then the top five. Each girl was asked a question with only one minute to respond on stage.
“I didn’t expect to make top five so when my name was called, I realized I had to answer a question on stage. It was a shock… and I thought, 'oh no'," says Bowdery.
The judges asked Bowdery what her best and worst qualities are.
“Growing up, people made fun of me and said I was too loud and talked too much,” she says. “But I turned it into something positive – I’m able to express myself and be outgoing and by myself around other people.
“I got off stage and thought whatever happens, happens and I am happy with my performances and did the best that I could. I was fine with how I did and proud of myself for how far I had come.”
Bowdery says she did not expect to win, so when she heard her name called as the winner of Miss Teenager Canada 2021, she began to cry.
“I stood on that stage and thought whatever I get, my family and friends will be proud of me. Making top five was a big accomplishment and this was my first national pageant,” she says. “When my name was called, I dropped to the floor and started bawling my eyes out! I was super overwhelmed and did not expect to win at all! It was such a surreal feeling. I was so happy!”
She says she's grateful for the opportunities she has experienced with the pageants.
“It’s a great experience altogether – you make lifelong friendships with so many girls all over the nation… but it’s a way to get out of your comfort zone and express yourself and try something new! You can do anything you set your mind to and speak on issues you are passionate about."