Sheron Nanayakkara Loftus is a finalist at the Mrs Sri Lanka for Mrs Universe 2018. She speaks to Leisure Plus – Sri Lanka (www.leisureplus.lk) on her experience in the competition.

What has your experience been like taking part in Mrs Sri Lanka for Mrs Universe?

I have had loads of fun taking part in this year’s pageant, it’s a new experience for me and one that I have always wanted to know what it felt like, so it’s definitely something I won’t be forgetting in a hurry, from the friendships formed and the sleepless nights to the glitz and glamour that comes with being part of a renowned pageant. As I said before, taking part in a pageant like this is something I have always dreamt of much like most girls I know, so to actually be on stage with those beautiful women kind of felt surreal at times.

It’s an experience that I hope every girl gets to go through, If not for anything else then for the confidence it gives young women and the immeasurable values it instils in us in the spirit of healthy competition.

There were plenty of mini pageants leading up to the Grand Finale, how did those help prepare you for the big day?

My first impression from all the mini pageants was how much work actually goes into all these pageants from across the world. The amount of sheer attention to detail that goes into each mini pageant really impressed me and it went a long way in dismissing the notion that Beauty Pageants are all about showing up and looking pretty.

Among the mini pageants were competitions like Best Personality, Mrs Congeniality, Best Smile, Best Hair, Best Figure, Best Legs, Catwalk, Best Talent and many others.

When Beauty Pageant contestants talk about the confidence that they derived from taking part in a pageant, I now understand what they mean, because each mini pageant that I was involved in helped me gain the confidence required for things like Mrs Personality, Congeniality among others.

As the big day approaches I find myself increasingly less nervous for the challenges that it might have in store for me.

The finals will be held on the 15th November at Anantara Hotel in Kalutara, I have no doubt it will be filled with Glitz, glamor and excitement.

The theme for Mrs Universe 2018 is Women Empowerment, what is your take on this topic?

In my experience women’s empowerment and its values took a while to be recognised on our Island as women in Sri Lanka to this day continued to be portrayed as the less capable gender in so, me quarters. As a nation that had the honor of electing the first female Prime Minister in the world, I find it rather surprising that Sri Lanka hasn’t yet taken steps in being a global leader for Women’s Empowerment Issues but as the old saying goes ’ it’s better late than never ‘.

Our nation is now slowly making strides towards reducing the wage gap, increasing the presence of women’s roles in the economy and slowly but surely eradicating gender inequality.

This is also a very prevalent issue in the Middle East where I work as a professional and it is something I have experienced first-hand, particularly the differences in salary amounts between myself and my considerably less experienced male counterparts.

That’s why I strongly believe in making a stand, and taking part in this pageant has given me the confidence I need to speak out. If I can encourage 10 women to get out of their comfort zones, to be themselves, we can make a change. Only a confident woman has the power to make a real change.