Beauty pageant queens you see in the movies or on TV are typically portrayed as shallow, vain, yet visually appealing characters. But what are they like in real life? And how accurate are these stereotypes?
Well, in the case of Bradford beauty queen, Denise Garrido, the stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Bradford native who was recently crowned Mrs. Galaxy Canada 2020 this past fall, has been part of the pageant life since she won Miss Teen Bradford in 2004, and then went on to compete and win Miss Teen Canada 2005.
Since then she has competed in many pageant competitions including Miss Earth Canada, Miss Universe Canada and Miss World Canada, using her titles as a way to do good and give back to the community.
“I call it the pageant bug,” she said.
The biomedical science graduate, who also has a black belt in tae-kwon-do, is now married with a 10-month-old baby, says the pageant life is what has given her an “adrenaline rush” allowing her to travel all across the world, making new friends and connections along the way.
“It’s been very rewarding in the sense that I've been able to go around the world with it but also just learn of so many amazing organizations and meet so many wonderful people and learn of so many great causes,” she said.
A large part of being a pageant contestant and winner is getting involved in the community, and making a difference.
“It’s not just, you’re going and competing on a stage, it’s about what you do with that,” she explained. “I always grew up with this sense of volunteering, so the pageants have given me more reason to do it.”
In the past she has volunteered her time at local events and fundraisers bringing attention to important causes and programs. She has travelled the world, volunteering her time with Healthy Kids, Happy Kids in India, Operation Smile and S.O.S. Children’s Villages in Nicaragua. She was also awarded the honour of North American Peace Ambassador in Hwacheon, South Korea.
Locally, she and her husband Scott Dietrich, who have written and illustrated a children’s book together, I Can and I Did, participate in The Blue Door Shelters Birthday Party, where they come by once a month to read their story and celebrate everyone at the shelter who has a birthday that month. She has also taught self confidence workshops to teen girls with low self esteem. In the workshops she teaches the girls about proper posture, and how to carry themselves in a positive, confident way.
Most recently, Garrido attended a fundraiser put on by the Global Federation of Chinese Business Women in support of the wildfires currently happening in Australia, helping to raise $1,000 for the cause.
“There’s so many positives that come from volunteering,” she said. “It really brings out this greater purpose for those involved.”
When the opportunity to participate in the Mrs. Galaxy competition came up last year, she was a new mom, breastfeeding and unsure if she wanted to throw her name into the hat. But she says the organization was very supportive and encouraging of her new mom status, and encouraged her to sign up.
“It’s been a family affair, because everything we do as a family,” she said.
The Mrs. Galaxy Canada pageant took place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in September, where Garrido competed as Mrs. Bradford, with 60 other contestants from across the country, and taking home the crown in the Mrs. category.
“Because it’s a contest, it forces you to step outside your comfort zone and work on improving yourself,” she said.
Throughout her pageant work, she says some of the most valuable lessons she has learned are how to carry and present yourself.
“All of these skills that come alongside preparing for pageants, you have to learn how to carry yourself, how to interact with people, to get involved with the community, to be able to speak, and then those specific skills can be translated to so many other parts of life,” she explained.
She remembers after winning her first title how excited and supportive the town was. She says the former mayor, Doug White, had helped her obtain sponsorships and local beauty salon, Exhale Spa, calling offering to help her with all her beauty needs for competition.
“I’ll never forget it,” she said. “Every single pageant that I’ve done, it was a community effort."
Garrido will be taking her title and representing Canada in the Mrs. Category again at the international Mrs.Galaxy competition this July in Chicago.
To learn more about Garrido and to see what upcoming events she will be at, check out her Facebook page here, or follow her on Instagram @MrsGalaxyCanada.