Newly crowned Miss Malaysia Universe Shweta Sekhon knows very well of the pressure and hopes pinned on her as she ventures onto the grand stage finals of Miss Universe 2019.
Malaysia has yet to produce a winner in 67 years of the pageant; this as contestants from other Asian countries like the the Philippines, India and Japan have triumphed.
But if the national levels competition was any indicator, the 22-year-old demonstrated she does exude the confidence and grit to push herself far.
“It was anyone’s game because when I saw all the girls, they were all unique. Everyone was different, and I remembered thinking, this is a tough competition. It’s not to be taken lightly,” says Shweta.
All 18 contestants underwent vigorous physical and mental training to learn the essentials to becoming a beauty queen - someone who does not just have a pretty face or physique, but a role model who inspires and empowers.
“At the Gala Night, I felt more confident,” she adds. “We were asked how we would like our hairstyle? I was imagining, if I had to put on the crown, would this hairstyle be suitable? So with that mindset, I just went out.”
Mom, Pillar of Strength
For Shweta, her mother is her greatest inspiration and supporter. It was at her urging that Shweta decided to enter Miss Malaysia Universe.
I always tell my mom, I want to be like you but with a different story
Her mother had also once harboured ambitions of becoming a beauty queen.
“She wanted me to live her dream,” says Shweta, who was raised in a close knit family comprising her mother and elder sister.'
“She could not pursue this pathway, she had to move on and that’s why she became a flight attendant with Malaysia Airlines instead," she adds.
Although the pageant dream began with her mother, Shweta is forging her own path to success.
“I always tell my mom, I want to be like you but with a different story,” says Shweta, adding that her mother is her biggest source of strength.
“She’s my own version of superwoman. She’s very strong and never breaks down easily.”
A Life Changing Experience
Shweta’s transition to becoming Miss Universe Malaysia did not begin the way most would expect. The girl-next-door didn’t think she stood a chance, having dealt with body image issues growing up. But with the support of loved ones, she developed confidence.
“I had very good support from friends too - they may not not blood related, but I call them my family.”
Shweta credits close friend Takiko Nair who saw the potential in her. “She used to make me run around the school field,” Shweta says with a smile. “I started taking green tea and eat healthier. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her.”
Becoming a Role Model
“A very good motivator of mine - someone who I treat like a dad - said to me once. ‘Always remember, your attitude defines your altitude in life.’”
I became an identity, and I am a voice now
That advice has kept Shweta motivated yet grounded throughout the national levels competition. “Just always be humble. No one will ever be able to stop you in life.”
Since being crowned as Miss Malaysia, Shweta has been thrown into the limelight. A little overwhelming at first, she admits.
Yet, Shweta is excited over the opportunities to pursue her passion through the platform that comes from winning the prestigious competition.
“In a way, I became an identity, and I am a voice now,” she says. “I have to spread love and positivity around because they look up to me now. So, in a way that brought a lot of change in life.”
Advocating gender equality
Although Shweta’s path to Miss Universe Malaysia is fairly new, the young beauty hopes to advocate gender equality and women empowerment during her reign.
“I feel that women are the greatest masterpieces created by God. We are so strong and beautiful, and we can do anything that we want,” she says with an air of bold enthusiasm.
Shweta is already getting right into her reign as Miss Universe Malaysia. She recently participated in fundraising activities through the Ipoh International Fashion Week.
As Shweta prepares for the upcoming 68th Miss Universe pageantry, she is determined to be a strong voice for young women and influence people to do good.
“Never think anything is impossible, because in that word itself, it actually says ‘I am possible!’”