Gone are the days when beauty pageants were frivolous fights over tiaras and sashes.
Now, Windy Wulandari, a contestant in the Queensland final for Miss World Australia 2020, is using her platform to champion diversity in Australia, celebrate her own unique Indonesian and Afghanistan heritage and share her passion for food.
Currently working as a Commis chef at Hamilton Island Resort, Windy completed world-class culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu, and says that her career was inspired by the feel-good children's movie, Ratatouille.
The Hamilton Island local also balances her love for cooking with a passion for inclusivity. Windy said that she decided to compete in this year's Miss World Australia contest to prove that beauty is more than skin-deep.
"I wanted to join to break the stereotype that you have to look a certain way to be in a beauty pageant or the industry."
What was your motivation to register for Miss World Australia?
Windy Wulandari: It was 2am one night and I couldn't sleep. While I was scrolling through Instagram, I saw an ad pop up to sign up for MWA20. I thought "they would never pick me" but just went for it!
Two weeks later I got an email saying "congratulations, you are chosen to be in a QLD PRELIMINARY FINALS!" I was shocked! I thought there must have been a mistake.
I wanted to join because to break the stereotype that you have to look a certain way to be in a beauty pageants or the industry. I mean, I'm petite, but I don't have that stereotypical 'skinny model body'. I want to show that I'm also beautiful and unique and celebrate my Indonesian/Afghani heritage.
Another reason I wanted to sign is to build my connections and have a platform to share important messages about bullying and be an advocate for the cause as I've personally suffered from mental bullying in my life.
What did you do to prepare for the competition?
Windy Wulandari: I have to be 100% physically, mentally and spiritually prepared. I exercise for at least 30 minutes for 5 days a week (or more depending on my mood). Doing exercise regularly not only keeps me healthy, but it also makes me feel better about myself and keeps me in a positive state of mind. I also place a huge importance on practicing positivity and self-love. A strict rule I go by every morning is to look in the mirror and repeat self-affirmations such as "I am beautiful, I can give and receive love and I am positive". It's a good way to prepare myself from any negative comments that you can receive regularly on social media in my industry. It can be hurtful and hard to read sometimes but keeping myself mentally strong is how I can withstand and keep reminding myself that I am who I say I am – a strong woman. As a Muslim woman I also pray daily which helps me become a better version of myself every day. I also pamper myself with a weekly facial from the comfort of my own bed: I moisturize my face day and night and not only does it keeping my face glowing and fresh it's also an amazing stress buster!
Can you take us through the steps of what competitors do during the competition?
Windy Wulandari: During the preliminary Qld Finals that were held on 15 March at Voco Hotel Gold Coast, we had a pretty rigorous schedule. From 10am-12pm we rehearsed! We practiced our music queues, our standing positions and our walking formations on stage. After rehears we took some photo and video content for the organisations social media pages as well as our own. and did some social media promotional activity. From 12-2pm it was break time where we had lunch, relaxed a bit, all of the contestants talked with each other and shared stories and laughs. After, it was make-up and hair touch up time! The show started at 2.30pm and the judges scores us in 3 main categories : Introduction, Evening Wear and Q&A. It was an amazing day and so much fun!
What did you enjoy the most about Miss World Australia?
Windy Wulandari: What I love the most about this organisation is being able to live and work by their main motto, "Beauty with a Purpose". Being involved with Miss World Australia allows us to raise funds for their main charity they work with- Variety Children's Charity. Our goal is to help offer a wide range of support to sick and disadvantaged children. They are also highly involved with anti-bullying organisations which is a cause that's very close to my heart
What have you learned about yourself during the competition process?
Windy Wulandari: To be yourself, be confident, and love yourself! Never EVER listen to people that say you have to look a certain way " you are you. We are all uniquely beautiful.
If you want to do something then GO FOR IT and show everyone what you're capable of! If you've ever been bullied because of your appearance, your skin colour, your ethnicity, or just because of who you are, this is your time to shine and tell those people they can mind their own business.
Why would you recommend the Miss World Australia to friends?
Windy Wulandari: It's a great platform to share a message of positivity! Your voice alone will help to create a better community or even world if you get to an international level within the organisation! It's also an amazing opportunity to meet so many lovely people, and widen your professional and social connections network.
What opportunities has Miss World Australia opened up for you?
Windy Wulandari: I've had such great opportunities to work with amazing photographers and industry professionals. I've also had the chance to speak to some great media outlets, including Female.com.au to continue spreading a positive message and support the organisation. I've also been able to raise awareness for being able to juggle multiple passions at once. My love for pageantry and my love for cooking!
What is next for you?
Windy Wulandari: Aside from my involvement with Miss World Australia I'm currently a commis chef based at the Hamilton Island Resort. I have a deep passion for food and cooking and studied at Le Cordon Bleu Sydney to achieve my professional qualifications. Being able to study at the world's best culinary school was an incredible milestone for me, and I now want to be able to use my platform in the pageant world to speak about the importance of good food and how it can bring different cultures together which is what our world needs right now.