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Lauren Riley, Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate
July 12, 2017 1:41am
ON FRIDAY Australia’s longest running beauty pageant, which raises money for a children’s charity, will crown the next Miss World Australia.
But to 22-year-old contestant Eliza Gray, of Avoca Beach, it is about more than just being pretty.
Ms Gray took out the state finals last month, earning her a place in the national final.
Perhaps the most phenomenal part of Ms Gray’s journey so far has been her lack of preparation.
Just one week prior to the state finals Ms Gray was apprehensive about even entering.
No outfits, no rehearsed answers to questions or perfected talent pieces and Ms Gray found herself in a position where she had no choice but to take to the stage with confidence knowing she was doing it for a good cause.
“I didn’t initially even tell anyone about the competition,” Ms Gray said.
“I didn’t think of participating until I realised it was more than just beauty … it was beauty with a purpose.”
Miss World Australia NSW finalists Lavinia White, Kadee Hollis, Alexandra Wallace, Eliza Gray and Alison Mitchell. Picture: Tim Hunter
Avoca Beach’s Eliza Gray. Picture: Dylan Robinson
On Friday in Australia’s fashion capital Melbourne, Ms Gray will be among 28 finalists battling it out to take home the title.
The personal trainer said the competition instilled in contestants that it was more than just a beauty pageant.
“I personally love that the competition celebrates everything that I am about … it’s beauty with a purpose and appreciating the gift of movement,” Ms Gray said.
For the first time, the competition has dropped the bikini category and gone with active wear, with contestants also facing questions on politics and current affairs, social media challenges and a catwalk in support of the Variety Children’s Charity.
“We have taken the shift from the simplicity of bikini modelling and taken it up a notch to celebrate … a strong fit body and living through confidence,” Ms Gray said.
“It’s about body confidence, charity and sharing confidence through celebrating beauty.”
And while Ms Gray edges one step closer to winning Australia’s longest running beauty pageant, she remains humble enough to say “it’s just not about winning”.
“It’s so much more than just taking to the catwalk,” Ms Gray said.
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