have strong roots, always be yourself | Daily News

have strong roots, always be yourself

Christina Peiris single-handedly gave Sri Lanka a reason to cheer when she was placed among the top 16 contestants in the semi-finals at the Miss Universe 2017 pageant held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The last time a Sri Lankan beauty queen made a significant impact in a beauty pageant of such caliber was Maureen Neliya Hingert when she became the runner up at Miss Universe 1955. A model and fashion designer Christina is the owner of X.TINA, a humanitarian clothing brand which she has established to donate a part of the earning to cancer patients.

“I had faith in myself that I had done the best I can when I was standing on that stage with thousands cheering all around me. I did not expect to hear Sri Lanka being called second. I was over the moon that I did not get to the top 16 through a wild card. The judges had actually chosen me. At that moment I felt that I had done the best for my country and I was very happy to bring Sri Lanka forward among 92 other countries. It amazed me that so many Sri Lankans voted because I only missed getting into the top 10 by 50 votes. It is a shame that if our whole country voted, we would have had the chance to be in the top 10 but looking at it from a positive perspective I am happy that for the first time since 1955 we only needed 50 votes to reach top 10!” Christina enthused.

She notes that one of the first things she noticed about being at the pageant was that almost every single girl who walked in was beautiful, possessed perfect hair, skin, toned bodies etc. This made her realize that she had to take a different route to catch the judges’ eyes.

“I think my best feature was that I allowed my personality to shine through. Throughout the whole pageant I made sure to be myself. I wanted everyone to get to know me the way my friends and family know me. Even in the interview I did not rehearse my answers. So during the interview with the judges we all had a couple of laughs and I felt that the judges got to know who Christina really is,” she explained.

Taking part in the pageant has also been a learning experience for the 23 year old beauty. Contestants from 92 countries had competed at the pageant and Christina had tried to learn something new about every single country during her stay.

“I think the best way to learn about the world is when you meet someone from another country. There are so many fun facts to share and learn from one another,” she said.

For Christina the real challenge linked with the event had been getting everything ready for the pageant while she was in Sri Lanka. She explains that she had to communicate with 15 people a day with every one changing plans the last minute and canceling meetings.

“It was alot to take on with just three weeks after my crowning. In Vegas they really spoilt the girls with everything from clothing, to electronics, goodies, food, VIP transportation etc. So after going from all the preparation I did in Sri Lanka, Vegas was like a piece of cake. However if I really had to pick one challenging moment I would have to say walking in six inch heels on a slippery stage for the first time,” she added with a laugh.

She notes that strangely she had enjoyed her whole experience at the pageant rather than be pressurized by it. She has made time to get to know each and every contestant.

“I made multiple friendships that I know would last a very long time. Miss New Zealand and I still speak to each other almost every day and the only reason I cried after the pageant was because we had to say bye to each other. We hope to meet each other soon in New Zealand or Sri Lanka,” Christina said.

Miss Universe Thailand Maria Lynn Ehren has been Christina’s personal favourite for the Miss Universe 2017 title even before they had met. Once they met up, they had bonded instantly.

“She was very friendly towards the other contestants and apart from being naturally beautiful, she had a personality which seemed like the perfect fit for the next Miss Universe,” Christina said.

Queried about her view towards the cluster of beauty pageants which seem to be mushrooming around the world Christina said she can barely keep count of them.

“I was privileged to be nominated for the most prestigious pageant in the world and to be a direct nominee. I don’t think I would have taken part in a local pageant hence why I felt like it was the right time and opportunity when I was being nominated. I was recommended by Linda Speldawin to Essential Entertainment and a few weeks later, I received the call to be interviewed among other contestants.

 I think Miss Universe and Miss World create a great platform for girls to speak about what they are truly passionate about and to be heard. This is what I truly admire about these pageants,” she expressed.

Voicing her opinion about transgender people or those who have undergone cosmetic surgery taking part in beauty pageants Christina says, “ I am a believer that we live in a free world and everyone should be free to do whatever it is that they wish to. A pageant like Miss Universe does not have any transgender contestants. However I was able to witness and hear stories about contestants using hair extensions, contact lenses, lip surgeries and other minor changes during the pageant period. The Miss Universe motto is to be “confidently beautiful” and I think being your 100 percent natural self is important,” she opined.

Before she left for Vegas some people have advised Christina to get eyelash extensions done.

“I listened to their advice and got my eyelashes done – an action which I immediately regretted. I returned the next day to get them removed but the lady said that it was too fresh to remove. So I had it reduced instead. Every single day leading up to the pageant I steamed, oiled and damped my eyes with warm water to remove them as I felt I did not look like myself or that the slight enhancement felt like I was cheating in the pageant by lying about the way I looked. I was finally able to remove every single one of them before the pageant because I think it is truly important to be YOU,” she said.

A past pupil of Holy Family Convent, Bambalapitiya, Christina had later moved to Abu Dhabi where she finished her high school education at the Cambridge High School. After her IGCSE I she immediately started her degree at the age of 17 and four years later she graduated. At 23 she has come a long way from running her own travel blog and clothing brand to being a brand ambassador for the fashion market. Becoming a brand ambassador for Sri Lanka had been the icing on the cake.

Christina says that her family has been her biggest strength throughout her success. Her father had supported her a lot financially from getting fabrics for her gowns to providing her plane tickets.

“My father is someone who only wants to see my sister and I strive for the best in life. He would only do nothing but the best for the both of us. My sister came with me from one place to another after she finished work to make sure I get everything done on time. I couldn’t imagine doing all of this alone and taking on so much stress before heading for the pageant. They are my biggest pillars of strength and most of this wouldn’t have been possible after my crowning as Miss Universe Sri Lanka if I did not have their unconditional support,” she mused adding that her mother has and always will be her biggest inspiration.

“I grew up watching her be a strong, independent, confident, kind and loving person. She use to uplift everyone around her and focused on making others smile throughout her day. With a full time job she was able to raise me and my sister and I think she did a pretty great job at raising us. She has shown me all the attributes of being the perfect woman,” Christina said.

“I have worked hard to make sure I accomplished all my dreams and after Miss Universe I only wish to work a lot harder on them. I consider myself a hard working person because at the end of the day I work hard to achieve what I am truly passionate about. I look forward to continue to inspire the youth as I did through my blog and after being crowned Miss Universe Sri Lanka I am able to reach a bigger platform,” she said.

Her advice for girls who are aspiring to take part in beauty pageants is to finish their education first.

“This is the only time you have to nourish yourself and to let yourself grow as an individual through a good education. Whether you want to be a model or beauty queen you should have strong roots and always be yourself. It is easy to get influenced in such industries but as long as you stay grounded, everything will fall in place. It is also important to go for the best and to pick what you want to do with care. Prior to this many approached me to join multiple pageants and modeling deals but nothing felt right. I am happy I had patience because this taught me that good things do take time,” she said.

“Don’t be afraid. It is very easy to doubt yourself and to always worry about what others may think of you. Only you know your own potential and what you are capable of. If I had listened to everyone else around me I would have never had my clothing brand X.TINA or my travel blog loveplate.blog or been in the top16 at Miss Universe 2017! Find your space, knock on doors and don’t be afraid to be proud about who you are and what you have to offer,” she concluded with a smile. 


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