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Watched by approximately 1 billion people worldwide, the Miss Universe beauty pageant is one of the most widely televised events in the world. It is also one of the most hotly contested. The international competition, owned and operated by American business magnate Donald Trump, is preceded by a series of rigorous national contests.

The UK finals will this year be hosted in Cardiff in June when 40 young aspiring candidates will undergo three days of demanding tasks including fundraising events, an adjudicated catwalk and an ‘empowerment day’. As is the case with the other 80-100 countries that are present in the competition, the elected UK winner will be nominated to represent their country at the international finals.

In preparation for Miss Universe 2015, Lux-Buzz caught up with Charlotte Giles, a former finalist for Miss England 2014 and last year’s Miss Hampshire.

Lux-Buzz: What or who initially inspired you to compete in beauty pageants?

Miss Giles: “My mother used to compete when she was younger, and encouraged me to enter when I finished university. I currently work as the Business Development Director for her company, Tracie Giles Bespoke Permanent Make Up, one of the UK’s most successful Luxury Permanent Cosmetics brands.

Lux-Buzz: What does the Miss Universe competition mean to you?

Miss Giles: “The Miss Universe competition is about empowering women. It’s about being the absolute best version of yourself that you can possibly be, mentally, physically and aesthetically. The judges are looking for a strong, independent and confident young woman who is inspiring and lives life to the full.

Lux-Buzz: Exactly how much work goes in to the competition?

Miss Giles: “People tend to underestimate the amount of work that goes into getting ready for the Miss Universe GB competition. Although I have a full time job, I am also having coaching lessons prior to the finals with pageant experts. I also love to keep fit, and have really taken my routine up a notch working out six days a week in preparation for a fundraising half-marathon at the end of May.”

“I honestly feel like there is nothing more rewarding than balancing working your absolute hardest in the office with working your absolute hardest on yourself to get competition ready. You need to be disciplined, motivated and passionate about both causes.”

Lux-Buzz: What’s the atmosphere like at beauty pageants?

Miss Giles: “It is of course very tense. Everyone has worked incredibly hard over the preceding months and it all comes down to three days. Spirits are also very high however and the weekend is jam packed with celebratory dinners, rehearsals and mentoring sessions, so there is little time to let the nerves get the better of you.”

Lux-Buzz: What is the best and worst thing about being part of the competition?

Miss Giles: “The best thing about being part of the competition is the journey getting there and the people that you meet along the way. There is a common misconception about the young women who compete in pageants, but in my experience they are some of the most interesting, ambitious and dynamic people I have met, and I have made some wonderful friends in the pageant world.”

“The worst thing I’m sure will be how much my feet are aching after the finals! A love of high heels comes with a price.”

Lux-BuzzFinally, If you were to reach the Miss Universe finals, what would you be most looking forward to? And what next?

Miss Giles: “Making it through to Miss Universe would be a once in a lifetime experience. It is a huge international event and I would relish the opportunity to be Great Britain’s representative on the world stage. I would hope to use my title to inspire other young women to empower themselves through business enterprise, hard work and independence.”

Originally published by Luxisto