What it takes to be a beauty queen | Sunday Observer
Former Miss Sri Lanka and Mrs Sri Lanka Sumudu Prasadani Abeysekera

What it takes to be a beauty queen

21 March, 2021

Contrary to popular belief, becoming a beauty queen is not limited to one’s physical attributes. In order to be crowned a beauty queen one must possess the qualities and personality of an inspiring leader and role model. Doing this, while it is very important, is not impossible for anyone who aspires to do so and dedicates time and energy to achieving their goal. Sumudu Prasadani Abeysekera is the perfect example of what it truly means to become a beauty queen as she was able to make herself, her family and her country proud by competing and winning the titles of Miss Perfect 2011, Miss World Sri Lanka 2012 and Mrs. World Sri Lanka 2018.

In an interview with Youth Observer, the proud wife, mother and beauty queen spoke about her journey throughout her pageant career, the lessons she has learnt through her experiences and her hopes and dreams for the future.

Q: You had the great opportunity of representing Sri Lanka at the Miss World Competition in the year 2012. What can you tell me about your experience within the competition?

A: Being at Miss World was a dream for me. It is one of the oldest and most reputed pageants in the world. It is the biggest and most grand pageant I have experienced and China did a great job that year in organising the pageant. We moved around China a lot, even on charted internal air lines. I am also proud and lucky to have been selected to the top 20 in the Top Model event out of the 127 countries that participated that year. I believe it was the stepping stone for many opportunities that came my way after that. In the local pageant I was able to win four mini tiles of best figure, best national costume, most beautiful hair and best jewelry model.

Q: Will you be competing for the title of Mrs. Sri Lanka this year? What have been your experiences in this competition so far?

A: No, I won the opportunity to be Mrs. Sri Lanka for Mrs. World competition in 2018. Many people mistakenly assume that I will be participating, as I have been attending the functions this year. I represented Sri Lanka at the Mrs. World Pageant in 2019 as well. It was a difficult time to represent Sri Lanka as it was amid the tragedy of the Easter bombings that Sri Lanka experienced. I had no time to prepare nor did I have the freedom or safety to go to the gym or get my kits ready for the pageant. Shanika Marasinghe, Kanishka Sangabo, Lumbini Bridals and Venuka Wickramaarachchi, helped me immensely to get things together for the pageant. In the local pageant, I was able to win five mini titles of best figure, best catwalk, best hair, best national costume and the title of being the most popular.

Q: Having competed as Miss Sri Lanka and also for the title of Mrs. Sri Lanka, would you say there are major differences between the two pageants and if so, what are those differences you have experienced?

A: The Miss World Pageant has developed a lot and is well known around the world normally each year,more than 120 countries participate and compete for the prestigious title. On the other hand, the Mrs. World pageant is still at the initial stages with around 37 countries participating in 2019. There are also major differences regarding the budget and security between the two competitions, as well. The local pageant was done and organised better by Chandimal than the global pageant was.

Q: Are there any major differences in the way in which beauty pageants are held with regard to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and have you faced any burdens because of the safety measures?

A: I have seen the difficulties the girls are going through this year, as it is a major risk to move around to get things done. Crucial things like going to the gym, training to walk, getting your dresses and kits ready are big challenges for the contestants this year. I saw these difficulties early on as well and that is one of the reasons as to why I decided to start my own gym as well. I am to open a gym for ladies only, with limited exclusive membership and training courses to address these difficulties and support these ladies as much as possible in the safest way possible.

Q: Competing in the Miss World beauty pageant is a great experience. What was your experience as a contestant in a beauty pageant of international standards?

A: Some countries groom their representatives from the very early stages of the competition leading up to the world stage. The stages are grand and unimaginably huge. They can pack a massive crowd and China definitely knows how to do things big. Some girls bring their own crew to support them in multiple areas as those countries can afford to do so. But in the Sri Lankan context, our budgets are limited. Mobitel and Oriflame supported me for the Miss World pageant along with very good friends like Venuka, Janaki aunty, Shanika ayya and Michael Wijesuriya. For the Mrs. World competition, Lumbini Bridals, Kanishka Sangabo, Shanika Marasinghe, Nirmal and Piyumi from Pranfitness.

Q: When competing on the international stage, did you experience any biases or undergo any issues such as colorism within the pageanting industry? If so, how did you handle and overcome it?

A: I did not experience any racism on the international stages. As a matter of fact, the girls who won Miss World or Miss universe a couple of years back were all women of colour. However, I must say that I see a weakness in Sri Lanka, being a country that was ruled by Britain for along time, we tend to honour our language as the second best in the global context. I have seen many winners of the Miss World competition who were only fluent in their mother tongue and they are proud of it. They are proud of their culture and language. Sri Lankans on the other hand, are not so when competing globally and locally as well. I see this happening as a trend in the local context, as only people who are well versed in the English language,are selected. With regard to this subject, local pageants are weaker than the global pageants. It is not about how good your English is. It is about how good your heart is.

Q: What are the main lessons you have learnt by competing in international beauty pageants and meeting different people from different cultures and backgrounds?

A: You need to respect and honor other people’s thoughts and views. They might not always see eye to eye with you on everythin, as people come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences in the world. So, you need to learn to move with people from both sides of the scale, from the worst to the best personalities and still be able to be you. You should also always stand up for what is right and just. In my opinion, the most important quality you must have as a beauty queen is to be humble and to serve others. It is not about what they can do for you. It is about what you can do for them. That should be your mantra.

Q: Representing our country in an internationally recognised beauty pageant and competing to win such a pageant undoubtedly adds a lot of stress and responsibility to one’s life. Could you tell me a bit about the impact, being a representative of our country on an international stage had on your life? And how did you balance the great respon sibilities that came with it?

A: Yes, it was a great responsibility to represent our mother land. Also, this is not a team sport. It’s only you who is representing the whole nation. It is a lot of pressure. I sometimes forget all the hardships I had to go through to arrive to the world stage, twice and concentrate on doing my best against the best in the world to win through honesty. I never struggled with being myself and being humble. I just gave it my best. When you do your best, even if you lose, deep down you know you did the best you could while being honest and that truly makes you feel very happy and content.

Q: What would you say are the main lessons you have learnt throughout your journey in the pageanting industry?

A: My husband and I are Buddhists, and we whole heartedly believe in the teachings of Lord Buddha. Winning the three crowns of, Miss perfect 2011, Miss World Sri Lanka 2012 and Mrs. World Sri Lanka 2018, never changed me. People normally change after they get famous. As a family, we do not like that, as we see humans as humans. We value our richest and most famous friend and we also value the friendly garbage collector on our road. All are the same to us. We treat them the same, without bias. We respect them the same way.

Q: What advice would you give someone who aspires to be an achieving beauty queen such as yourself?

A: Always make sure to stay humble and watch out for people who appear to be friends but are really approaching you for their advantage. Find a good mentor. You can always contact me if you need any guidance. Don’t get lost and never run after money. I see many young girls going after money, losing their souls along the way and becoming slaves to others.