Welcome back, and today I’ll be taking you through one of my connection initiatives at the beginning of the pandemic.

With the total lack of public events and opportunities, I, like many of my pageant sisters, turned to social media. I wanted to find a way to bring people together, and thus was born my weekly Instagram Live series, QuaranTEA TIME!

I started reaching out to my friends to see what kind of content they would like. They suggested a mix of fun and serious topics. I approached several experts in various fields to come on as guests, and I was surprised by the positive responses!

I was pretty nervous before my first stream on April 3, but I was also really excited. A friend and master crafter, Ilyssa Tobenstein, came on to chat about DIY ideas and demonstrated a few projects. It went really smoothly, and I couldn’t have been happier!

1st promo poster!

In the following weeks, I got the chance to interview several other amazing role models, including the founders of Costume Change Co., a group that promotes environmentally sustainable ways of living. One week, I had a discussion on teenage mental health with a fellow MTC delegate, Emily Bliss. We talked about self-care, diet culture, society’s hustle mentality, and so many more interesting topics. It was also my absolute honour to interview Jenna Free from The Body Love Society, a major North American company that teaches the philosophy of “un-dieting” and promotes food and body freedom.

Interview with Jenna Free: A little blurry but there we are! (170 people watching, holy moly!)

Some weeks, I chose to broadcast alone. These shows were always exciting because I improvised some of my content based on live feedback from my listeners. For example, one of my episodes started as a lesson on tying a tie, but it quickly turned into an interactive discussion on gendered clothing in 2020. It was awesome. Another time, I did a live Q&A about me and my pageant journey, and it was fun to react to questions as they came in. My favourite solo episode was definitely cookie-baking. I wanted to participate in the final day of Canada Positivity Week, and the challenge was making and sharing a recipe! I’m also known for being a bit of a klutz in the kitchen, so I loved letting my viewers give me tips as I baked (and the results were awesome!)

Baking poster!

PB cookies=Love!

Overall, I’m really grateful and humbled to have access to these resources. I’m definitely impressed by today’s technology. I was able to talk to amazing people and reach so many listeners from different parts of the continent. Some weeks, we had internet difficulties, but for the most part, the web was on our side. Without this platform, I might not have been able to spread my message of hope and positivity as far as I was able to. It’s really important to stay connected during periods of isolation, and I’m happy that I was able to find a way to make people smile, even for just a few minutes at a time. I haven’t hosted a QuaranTEA TIME in a little while, but who knows?! Maybe a new theme will come up soon! Stay tuned!

-Clara

Written by: Clara
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Hey everyone and welcome back! Today, I’ll be taking you through my hair donation journey. Read on for the story of my big chop.

Ever since I was little, I was know as “the one with the hair”. I’ve always had long curly hair and it was something that set me apart. It even landed me a cameo in a video! I used to dream of being Rapunzel and all I wanted in life was floor-length hair. One year ago, I significantly cut my hair for the first time, but even then, it was still pretty long.

Dramatic and curly 8-year-old me               in a music video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone says that people with curly hair want straight hair and vice versa, but not me. I’ve always been happy with my unique hair texture. The only downside: it’s pretty hard to maintain. As fun as they are, my curls require frequent detangling and they get caught on everything. I mean everything. People also often feel comfortable touching them without asking, which can be a little… unsettling. In recent years, I took to wearing my hair in a bun most of the time to avoid the extra attention it attracts. But no more. I decided it was time to go short and embrace my natural curls.

I knew was going to cut enough inches to donate, so I chose to give my hair to Locks of Love. I wanted to make this milestone as fulfilling as possible. I figured that if I can help out a child in need, I should go for it. To take it one step further, I turned this amazing experience into a fundraiser for Miss Teenage Canada’s national charity, Make-A-Wish Canada. It was exciting and humbling to receive so much support from my friends and family.

My promo picture to show off my curls!

Alright. Now it’s time for the fun stuff. I made sure to take lots of pictures after the final brushing. I thought I would be sad, but I was more excited (and a little bit nervous). On the way to the salon, I could feel my heart beating fast in anticipation, but I knew I was headed toward a wonderful experience. I was really fortunate to have this chop sponsored by InHAIRitance Curl Spa, the absolute best curly hair salon in the city. I love the staff and ambiance there, so I knew it would be amazing.

Ready for the cut!

First, they cut off the braid that I was going to donate. I expected it to be scary, but I knew from that first snip that it was the best hair decision I could’ve made. They then shaped my hair into the tapered style I wanted, and then washed it. After it dried, they made the last little adjustments. With every cut, I felt more and more happy with my new look. See below for the step-by-step transformation!

The braid

The big chop!

Post-chop shaping

Final touches

Couldn’t be happier!

And of course, I made sure the style works with my crown!

First crown pic with my new do!

I’m extremely grateful to have lived this experience. I’ve never suffered from or lost my hair due to a life-threatening illness, so I’m happy that I can use my privilege to help children and teens in need. I love that such a simple act can make a difference in someone else’s life. If you’re looking to make a difference (and cut off some hair for the summer!), I would definitely recommend considering donating like I did. It’s an experience like no other! I’m in love with every aspect of my new do, and I don’t regret a thing. Stay tuned for more updates on my new short-haired life!

-Clara

Written by: Clara
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It goes without saying that physical distancing has left many of us with lots of time on our hands. It’s a great opportunity to explore our interests and try new things, but let’s be honest here. We’re in a pandemic. It’s not exactly our prime time, and not all of us have the headspace to be ultra-productive. There is NOTHING wrong with that. Our job right now is to survive. That’s it.

So how have I been doing that?

Music. A lot of music. I’ve found that working on creative projects has given me a purpose as well as a space to unwind. This situation can be really stressful, so it’s been important for me to find ways to decompress.

Starting a new song!

One of my favourite hobbies is making a cappella covers of my favourite songs. I am by no means a singer, but I find the writing, recording, and editing process to be really fun and relaxing (not to mention time-consuming!). Here’s how I do it:

First, I choose a song. It’s important to find one that I like so that I don’t get bored of it in the process. I also make sure that I can actually sing it. It’s can be disappointing to start a new cover, only to realize that it goes too high or too low! Some of my recent ones have been We Know the Way from Moana and Fantasy by Earth, Wind & Fire (I’ll link them below!)

The toughest part is next: I have to find all of the chords and write out my arrangement. Depending on my level of motivation and the complexity of the song, I sometimes look the up chords online. Some may say that this is “cheating”, but who cares?! I just use the tools that are available! This step is usually messy because I’m a beginner in arranging and I do it all by hand, so there’s definitely a lot of erasing and restarting. I’m inspired by people like my dad (a professional musician/arranger) who can write out creative arrangements in his sleep! I’m nowhere close to being that comfortable, so this step still feels like “mental gymnastics”. I’m happy to keep working hard, though, because it gets a little easier every time!

The first draft of chords for Forget You!

The next part is the most fun: recording and editing! I’m really fortunate to come from a musical family, so we have a room that’s set up with recording equipment. People always ask me what program I use, and the answer is… GarageBand! It’s very simple, but you don’t necessarily need expensive software to make music. Sometimes, an easy and user-friendly program is all it takes.

GarageBand view of my latest project!

I learned early on that it’s best to start by recording the base track and making sure it’s in tune. This way, it serves as a pitch reference for all of the other tracks. After that, I layer up the voices, from lowest to highest. Once I’ve recorded all the parts, it’s time for post-production editing. I listen first for unwanted background noises and do what I can to remove them. Once I’m satisfied, I do some more precise editing by fiddling with the panning, volume, reverb, EQ, and special effects. All of these modifications help with the overall listening experience by making the music more dynamic.

One of the most difficult aspects of this process is knowing when to stop. I have very high standards, so it’s tough to tell myself that the project is done when I can still hear flaws. There always comes a time, though, when the work/result trade-off is no longer worthwhile. Allow me to explain. At the beginning, I can do a very small amount of editing and hear a monumental difference. As the process goes on, every bit of editing leads to smaller and smaller changes. There’s no such thing as perfect, so I could eventually end up spending four hours on the same two seconds (believe me, I’ve been there), but at a point, I just have to step back and say, “I’ve done what I can”. This means that the final product isn’t always my favourite project ever or my most successful one, but I think it’s still an accomplishment because I set out to do something and I saw it through.

Cover photo for my recent project!

Most recent video: https://youtu.be/Wyq4-Oxdd94

We Know the Way from Moana: https://youtu.be/5pMH_-V0Vw8

Whatever it may be, it’s really important for all of us to find something that makes us happy. It could be an art, a sport, a craft, a TV show, a book, or anything else that makes us smile. I hope you’re all finding something to get you through this difficult time!

-Clara

 

 

 

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Hi everyone, and welcome back to my blog! Just an FYI: I tend not to use Quora for my big life decisions, but sometimes, the right forum can bring you places you never even imagined.

Most of my pageant sisters have amazing stories about how they started their journeys. They were either looking for new experiences with different friends, ways to improve their confidence, or a platform to raise their voice. I share those same values, but my first Google search was a little bit different. It went:

“Places to wear a prom dress”

Yep. Having just graduated from high school (in grade 11 in Quebec), I was regretting that I would never again get to wear my sparkly pink princess gown. I turned to Google in the hope of finding an event to which it would be appropriate to wear such a dress. Among weddings, cocktail parties, charity events, and galas, I didn’t expect to find “pageants”.

Prom picture from Mount Royal!

I won’t deny that as a child, I had dreams of entering a pageant. I had never known anyone who had participated in one, though, so my only exposure to them was from the little clips of Toddlers & Tiaras that came up in my YouTube suggestions. As you can imagine, I had no idea what modern teenage pageantry looked like. I started to do some research, and that’s where I came across the Miss Teenage Canada website.

What a change in perspective. My eyes were suddenly open to the fact that pageants are actually a unique opportunity for girls to gain confidence and take their place in society. I thought to myself, “I can stand behind that”, and no sooner than one week later, I was signing myself up for the Miss Teenage Quebec provincial qualifiers.

My excitement leading up to the big day was almost overwhelming. I had no idea what to expect, but I was ready. I had bought a new swimsuit with my best friend, and I was feeling more confident than ever because it would be the first time I would ever wear two-piece swimwear. I was also ecstatic to take my gown out of my closet, since it’s what had gotten me there in the first place.

Right after evening gown section!

Our qualifiers were a private event in front of a small panel. We walked first in swimwear, then in dresses, and finally, we were interviewed. I decided to give it my all, but had no expectations because it was my first time competing in anything like this. I was ultimately thrilled and surprised to find myself crowned Miss Teenage Quebec 2020! Nothing could have prepared me for that, but once I realized it was, in fact, real, I was overcome with joy and a bit of nostalgia, as I realized that one of my childhood dreams had been fulfilled.

Photo: Tommy Levan

I am so excited to have this fantastic opportunity to be a role model to other girls, to become more active in my community, and to raise awareness for eating disorders. Stay tuned for new updates coming soon!

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My name is Selena V. and I am Miss Teenage National Capital Region 2020 (official name for the region between Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec).

The purpose of this first blog is to tell you more about myself, so let me start…

I am fourteen years old and I am a student at Immaculata High School in Ottawa. I live with my parents, my younger sister and my one year old German Shepard Tyson. My parents came from war torn ex-Yugoslavia  (I will tell you more about this in the future) when they were very young, they met and fell in love in high school and been together ever since. I have been blessed with a big family and lots of friends both in my community, school and everywhere else.  I speak English, French and Serbian/Croatian fluently.

I truly love sports. I love playing, watching, learning and discussing sports. I play soccer, futsal, basketball and volleyball for my school. My first love is definitely soccer, as I have been playing it since I was five years old. My favorite team is Real Madrid and my favorite player is Luka Modric. I also cheer for the Croatia National team and I was so disappointed when they lost to France in the World Cup in 2018. My world just crashed at that moment because they deserved to win as they were the underdogs and worked really hard to make it to the finals.

I have also been playing volleyball since I was in primary school where we won gold medal against all primary schools in the region. I was very proud of this achievement especially because it was my first medal.

Presently, I also play basketball and just before the pandemic was announced, I was getting ready for numerous basketball tournaments. I am very competitive so I was looking forward to winning these tournaments for my school. In order to go to my basketball practice at 7, I had to wake up at 5 am which was very rough but I never missed a single practice.

 

I also share a love for dance, especially Folklore which is a traditional Serbian dance. I started dancing folklore when I was 5 years old. Folklore gave me so many wonderful memories, great friends and made me develop deep love for my culture. With my Folklore dance group, I’ve travelled all around Ontario and performed in front of thousands of people which was an amazing experience. As part of Folklore, I have also filmed a pilot series called “On Fete Ensemble” (We Celebrate Together) where I presented my Serbian culture to my Moroccan friend. For the whole day, I was followed by a camera crew which filmed me getting ready for my Folklore performance, showing my friend my costume, getting my hair done, as well as our performance and my friend meeting my dance group.  It was such a great experience and it really prepared for everything that comes with pageant participation.

This is my first pageant ever and I have decided to sign up for Miss Teenage Canada to create new opportunities for myself as I would like to explore modelling and acting world in the future. I also signed up because I love meeting new people and this has already been such a great opportunity as I have been talking to MTC delegates from all over Canada and I can’t wait to meet them in person. I also think the pageant will be a great opportunity to increase my self-confidence as I will learn and explore many things that will help me grow as a person.

I think this is a good start. Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog!

Wherever you go, go with all your heart (Confucius)

-Selena

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Hi everyone! My name is Clara Chemtov. I’m 17 years old, I’m from Montreal, and I’m Miss Teenage Quebec 2020. This is my first time having a title and I’m really excited! Before we get into all of that, though, here’s a bit about me.

Photo: Tommy Levan

Anyone who knows me knows that I love dancing. Dance has been a part of my life since I was two years old, but I only became serious about it in high school. Last year, my best friend and I made the big decision to study dance in Cégep, which is Quebec’s post-secondary institution before university. In the year leading up to this moment, we were fortunate enough to participate in stages with some of Quebec’s leading contemporary companies, including Trip the Light Fantastic, with whom we were included in the premiere of a brand new work.

Music also plays an instrumental role in my life (pun intended). Both of my parents are musicians, so I was exposed to a wide variety of instruments from an early age. I discovered the flute in high school and instantly fell in love. I currently play in two different community concert bands! In addition to the flute, I also love to sing. I was in my school choir for five years, and this is where I developed an interest in a cappella music. From there, I started arranging and recording a cappella versions of my favourite songs, and even made a Christmas album!

Cornwall Santa Claus Parade!

So honoured to play the feature solo!

I’ve always loved having a unique sense of fashion. I enjoy creating funky outfits and was known for my “costumes” on Free Dress Days, because they usually involved real lights. I discovered early on that this was a way to improve my confidence and make people smile, and I was happy to do it.

This love of fashion also led me to my first job. I am a part-time stylist for a local dress store, and it’s my pleasure and privilege to help clients find what will make them feel their best. I also got to model for them!

Photo: Boutique 1861

Photo: Boutique 1861

In the fall, I decided to sign up for the Miss Teenage Quebec qualifiers because I was looking for a new way to step out of my comfort zone. I didn’t know what to expect and was ecstatic to find myself named Miss Teenage Quebec. I’ve always been an involved volunteer, whether through my high school or my synagogue youth group, and I’m really excited for this opportunity to become even more active in my community. I’m also very grateful for the voice I’ve been given, so that I can raise awareness for eating disorders.

That’s a little bit about me! Stay tuned for my pageant story! -Clara

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