Rosie Awori (LJI)
At 15 years old Aaliya Arthur has an astuteness and depth that goes beyond her years.
She was recently crowned in a virtual ceremony earlier in the summer and with her new title she hopes to create awareness about mental health as well as promote positive feminine energy and hopefully change the perceptions of many when it comes to pageantry and show that’s its not all about looks.
“I love trying things out of my comfort zone,” she explains via telephone interview to the CONTACT. “I found out about the pageant on Facebook I decided to try it. There’s a lot of stereotypes on them. People usually think in pageants, you must have, the blonde hair, the blue eyes, the straight hair.
So I was afraid that pageants were like that, but as soon as I entered this one, I realized it’s not at all like that. I realized that pageants are more about what you do for the community and how you are inside the judges and everything they want you to be the best version of yourself. It’s not about being perfect. “
The Pierrefonds native is passionate about mental health, she was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) at the age of seven.
She says “with or without the Miss Teenage Quebec title” she will remain devout in championing for mental health.
The Miss Teenage competition is different from the common beauty pageant as it promotes female empowerment. They even substituted the swimsuit part of the competition for athleisure wear as they do not want the contestant to focus on the external factors but what is within, their ability to articulate their ideas concisely, promote a cause, walk properly among others.
In the past few months, Black athletes such as Naomi Osaka, and Simone Biles have bowed out of competitions saying “NO” and standing up for their mental wellness and they have shown that resisting expectations is more powerful than persisting through them.
Aaliyah sees this as a positive step in the right direction and for her she also has a number of things she does to keep herself on track and the way she sees it a break every once in a while, is important.
“I journal, meditate, and if I am getting too stressed out my mum helps me take a break,” she explains, “people take off of work when they’re sick which is seen as normal. What my mom would do is that she would see that I would be stressed and panicking an once every few months or something she would take me out of school and she would tell me to rest. Because I was always working really hard, and I would be over stressed.
So, I think it’s OK to take a break and I want people to know that cause society does put a lot of pressure on people to be perfect. You know how the perfect body have the perfect, you know, sit like this. And I think it’s important to do what you love and. I believe in taking breaks and that it’s important.”
The 15-year-old is a student at Pierrefonds Community High School, her calm demeanour and passion are traits to admire. She is among four Quebec finalists who will go on to Miss Teenage Canada.
The finals will be held in Toronto (If the COVID situation remains under control) Previous winners include engineer and CityTV correspondent Lauren Howe and model and behavioural neuroscience graduate Megha Sandhu. Howe advocates for female empowerment and conservation, while Montrealer Sandhu has volunteered with children who have special needs.
Aaliyah has also partnered with Make A Wish Foundation and hopes to raise $1000 for the Care and Share Foundation. She wants to spread positivity to young people and keep encouraging them to take care of themselves.
“I just I want to spread the word and I want everyone to know that being aware of your mental health is the first step to healing it, and it’s just the most important thing. You can’t really do anything else unless you have a good state of mind. Like my mom only allowed it by ensuring that I was happy and in the right mind frame to do it.”
She is also grateful for the support she has gotten from; Wendy Lacroix photography, Mark Lachance at Maxymedia inc, Total Custom Services, and Omer and Caroline at Econoplus and welcomes support from the community. Her make a wish foundation can be found at:
she is also on Instagram and facebook @missteenagequebec