Hi everyone! My name is Khushi and I’m honoured to represent British Columbia as one of the contestants in the upcoming nationals. I’m 17 years old and graduated (just yesterday!) from high school with a dual diploma – a Dogwood Diploma and an International Baccalaureate Diploma. I will be attending the University of British Columbia to pursue a Bachelor of Science with a major in Biology. My final goal is to attend medical school and specialize as a psychiatrist.
As a young girl (arguably still a young girl), I was bullied. Viciously. Not a new story unfortunately, but one that affects the lives of thousands. For some, bullying leads them down a path of low self-esteem and no confidence, while it makes others resilient and defiant. For me, personally, I lost all sense of who I was, I resented those who told me to just “love myself”. But how can you when everyone around you says otherwise? This is one of those things that can be categorized under the cliche saying “It’s easier said than done”. I have switched schools more than most people would, all because I was cast as an outsider, treated differently. Why, you might ask? Well I looked different. I had imperfect teeth, what some might call “bunny teeth”. However, that never stopped me from smiling and laughing at everything. A true representation of my name, Khushi, which in my language means happiness.
As a young child my parents protected me from most of it, they didn’t let me ever think that I wasn’t beautiful. However, as I grew older, I started seeing what society’s expectations of beauty really were. Straight teeth, flawless skin, an hourglass figure and long flowy hair. None of which I had at the tender age of 8. I started comparing myself and soon I found myself begging my parents for braces because I thought if only my teeth were straight, I’ll be considered beautiful too. Funny, right? After YEARS of braces, expanders, springs and any other contraption you can think of, as well as an unholy amount of money, I was finally done. I entered high school with perfect teeth. Life was finally going to be better.
But that’s when the acne hit. My once perfect, childish skin was marred with pimples and scars. But hey, at least my teeth were perfect. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough. I still struggle with breakouts and they damage my confidence beyond anything. After 3 pageants, heading to my 4th, I’m still bogged down by a pimple. You know, those natural things that come in the package deal of being a teenager. After 5 years of creams, facials, and even medication, I have FINALLY admitted that society’s standards of beauty are unattainable. Unreachable. Unobtainable. It’s okay to have scarred skin, whether that be from acne or stretch marks. It’s okay to have imperfect teeth (trust me it’s really too expensive to bother). It’s okay to be YOU – no matter what that looks like.
When discussing with my friends they often ask how I have the confidence to leave my house without makeup or participate in pageants, and my answer is always the same – I embrace who I am. My self-worth isn’t determined by Photoshopped ads and unbelievably thin models, it’s defined by how I treat those around me and what I think about myself. I can finally say, I love myself.
My experiences and my mindset define who I am. My actions and words towards others reinforce that. Although I will be the youngest contestant to walk across that stage in July, I am proud and confident in myself. I hope, at the bare minimum, to inspire other girls and boys who are resilient and overcome obstacles on a daily basis, even if they don’t realize it.