Silverdale’s Jessica Turunen wanted to step outside her comfort zone and reclaim her identity after motherhood.
On a whim, she decided to enter the Australian Continents Pageant.
And only eight weeks later she was crowned Mrs Australia Continents.
The 26-year-old mother-of-two wants to empower other women to step out of their comfort zones.
“As a mum, you often forget who you are,” Mrs Turunen said.
“Our lives are so focused on our children and husbands.
“We are a wife and mum first and we can forget who we are as a person.
“It is great being a mum but I wanted my own identity and to do something for myself.
“I also wanted to give back to my community.
“I would highly encourage other women to do the same.”
Mrs Turunen said she, like many, had preconceived ideas about what type of women entered pageants but was pleased to find that there was a competition for married mothers.
“The Continents pageant’s motto is ‘be your own kind of beautiful’,” she said.
“There was no weight or height restrictions like other pageant competitions.
“Whilst I am slender, I am short and after having my kids, I had body and self-esteem issues like most women do.
“It was encouraging to see all kinds of women in the competition.
“It was nice that the judges saw something in me that before the competition, I didn’t see in myself.”
Mrs Turunen said her husband and family was very supportive of the competition.
She said the other contestants were “beautiful, kind and caring people” who helped her as a first time contestant.
“People always think pageants are like Toddlers and Tiaras and that the girls are catty or are like typical airhead models,” Mrs Turunen said.
“It is actually the complete opposite. I was genuinely shocked at how lovely all the women were to me.”
Mrs Turunen said in the lead up to the competition, she was required to do charity work, fundraising and make appearances at community events.
She aligned herself with the Leukeamia Foundation and Black Dog Institute where she previously volunteered.
“We were required to show the judges that we wanted to help out in the community rather than doing just things for ourselves,” Mrs Turunen said.
At the nationals competition, the hairdresser competed in evening wear, swimwear and fashion wear and a personal interview round.
Mrs Turunen took out awards for best in interview, best in evening wear and miss photogenic.
She will be representing Australia at the international final in Las Vegas in next June.
Mrs Turunen is looking forward to competing against other national title holders and she wants to continue continue her charity work and compete in more pageants in the future.