Real Life

Beauty queens’ battle for the top

Things are heating up between rival pageants Miss World New Zealand and Miss Universe New Zealand.

Catfights in the beauty world aren’t uncommon – in fact, they border on cliché. But while the claws aren’t out yet, things are heating up between rival pageants Miss World New Zealand and Miss Universe New Zealand.

The eligibility controversy surrounding this year’s South African-born Miss Universe New Zealand winner Avianca Bohm has left Miss World New Zealand winner Collette Lochore feeling like her quest for the crown has been ignored.

Collette (18) says she hasn’t had her fair slice of the media pie – something that could spell doom for her chances at the Miss World finals this August in China. Collette says the negative media attention surrounding Avianca has left her struggling to find sponsorship, leaving her two weeks away from leaving without any dresses, shoes or even a suitcase. She’s also struggling to raise her desired $10,000 for her charity, Variety – The Children’s Charity.

“The limelight has definitely been taken away from me as a title holder,” she says. “It’s like, ‘Do I have to make up a scandal to get into the papers?’ But that’s not the way I want to represent myself.”

Collette says she’s had sponsors pull their support and store owners slam doors in her face, as the New Zealand public suffers from a serious case of pageant fatigue. “When I went to stores to find sponsorship, it was as if they didn’t even want to listen.”

Walking down the pageant runway has been Collette’s dream since she was a little girl and she’s confident she can make her situation work. If she won’t be in designer dresses and expensive shoes, she’ll be rocking outfits sourced from Auckland op shops. “It’s a point of difference and it’s my style,” says the bubbly Aucklander.

“Because of the whole drama with Miss Universe, people don’t want to be associated with pageants at the moment and I’m struggling to find the support I need. People don’t realise the two organisations are very different.”

Collette, who’s related to All Blacks great Sir Brian Lochore, is quick to point out the differences between the two organisations – Miss World is a charitable trust and Miss Universe is owned by business mogul Donald Trump.

“Miss World has a huge focus on beauty with a purpose. Miss Universe doesn’t focus on inner beauty, it’s solely outer beauty,” she says. “But everyone thinks they’re the same thing. I’ve had people come up to me and be like, ‘I didn’t know you were South African.’”

Collette says she has big plans to make a difference during her one-year reign and has signed up to do plenty of charity work. Collette admits she is “disappointed” that she’s been overshadowed, but bears no ill feelings towards Avianca – rather directing it at how the Miss Universe organisation handled the situation.

“I think the media hype had a lot to do with the organisation not treating Avianca fairly. “It should have been handled differently – but why is their scandal affecting my title?” she says. “I want to go out there with elegance and sophistication. I will make New Zealand proud!”

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