Irene Bayati has walked across the stage being crowned as a finalist in the provincial qualifiers of the Miss Teenage Canada pageant — fulfilling her dream to get out of her comfort zone and gain new skills.
The Grade 11 Comox Valley student, avid poet, pianist and pageant finalist is the next guest on the Record’s weekly podcast, Off The Page, and used the opportunity to share her passions and help advocate for her peers.
“(Pageants) really emphasize your own kind of beautiful, which comes from confidence, being able to voice your thoughts, and having passions and standing up for what you believe,” she explained.
“And of course, there’s makeup skills and hair, but a huge part of it is what can you do to make the world better?”
As for her thoughts on how she can make the world a better place, Bayati said her perspective on socializing — particularly in her generation — should be better examined, and believes she can help with improving human interactions.
She advocates for youth, particularly improving face-to-face connections.
“You’ll see so many kids and youth these days that are missing those connections, and I really want to help those people know that they’re not alone … it’s really clear that we need to give more support and awareness, and just some tools to kids these days, and youth especially, to help overcome the unique challenges in today’s day and age.
“Because our parents didn’t really have to deal with some of the things that we have to deal with today, especially with the digital age.”
As for the future of the pageant circuit and if the competition is relevant going forward, Bayati noted the competitions have changed dramatically and are significantly more inclusive. Currently, she conceded pageantry is binary but would like to see that change.
“I think we should really work on making it an even more welcoming place because I think everyone that wants to should be able to go into pageantry.”
Bayati, who works with youth through her job with the City of Courtenay at the Lewis and LINC centres, said she ultimately would like to continue her professional career in the same field, particularly working more with mental health and creating larger support systems.
As for her role as a mentor for her peers and other youth? You’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear what her role is going forward.
To listen to the full episode, download Off The Page on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and everywhere podcasts are heard, or visit omny.fm/shows/off-the-page. New episodes of Off The Page drop every Wednesday.
To submit podcast topics or guest ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org.