Representing the town of Bradford, Jaclyn Bowdery recently won overall in the Miss Teen Ontario 2021 pageant and will be moving on to the national competition for the title of Miss Teen Canada 2021 at the end of August.
The pageant was held in Vaughan last month and saw more than 30 contestants between the ages of 13 and 19.
Established in 2008, Miss Teen Ontario and Canada pageants are recognized as one of the biggest and most accomplished provincial pageants in Canada. Their motto is: ‘Be your own kind of beautiful.'
Bowdery got into the pageant industry through her sister, Hayley, who has been competing in pageants for years and won Miss World Ontario in February 2020.
Bowdery is 17 years old and in Grade 12. She is the youngest of the two sisters who are both originally from Duncan, B.C., but have lived in Bradford most of their lives.
“I saw how much fun my sister had when she won Miss World Ontario 2020. She loved it and shared that the sisterhood was so strong among the girls,” she says. “So, based on her experience, I wanted to try it!”
Bowdery says she looks up to her sister who is a "very big role model" in her life, as well as her best friend. So, it was no surprise to their parents, Aileen and Jack, when Jaclyn decided she also wanted to start competing in pageants.
“My sister was the person who pushed me to do the pageant,” said Bowdery. “But my whole family used to watch Miss Universe and Miss World pageants on TV. … Our parents are also very supportive.”
Both sisters are part of a modelling industry in Toronto called International Professional Entertainment Network (IPEN) and have trained over the years on how to effectively walk and talk for pageants. The girls are half-Filipino and half-Irish, and have competed in many Filipino fashion shows over the years.
“I worked on speaking and communication skills, my walk and platform,” she said. “Our platforms are a very important part of the pageant. It’s what we are very passionate about and want to spread awareness on.”
Bowdery chose the topic of suicide awareness among youth as her platform and trained on effective public speaking to properly communicate her topic for the competition.
“It’s very near and dear to my heart, especially since COVID,” she said. “Suicide rates have gone up drastically. I want to be a role model for those youth, someone people can look up to and hopefully be inspired to try something new.”
During the competition, contestants were judged on a variety of factors including how well they spoke and walked, their choice of ‘active wear’ (formerly the swimsuit edition), and their ‘evening wear’ (ball gowns) before delivering a 30-second platform speech.
This was the pageant’s first year switching the swimsuit edition to active wear.
“I think it’s better because it shows our athleticism,” she said about the active-wear segment of the pageant. “It allows us to show more confidence. I think it was really important they made this change. The girls were a lot more confident and it showcases our individualities.”
Bowdery says her favourite part of the pageant is the evening-wear segment because she loves wearing ball gowns.
“You get to feel like a princess,” she said.
When the judges announced Jaclyn Bowdery as the overall winner of Miss Teenager Ontario, she says she was "shocked."
“I didn’t expect to win. All the other girls were just so good at everything they did. When my name got called, it was just unreal. I was just surprised and shocked, but of course so happy,” she said.
Bowdery was fitted with a jewelled crown and sash that reads ‘Miss Teenager Ontario’.
The nationals will be held at the end of August for a full week where Bowdery will be competing with more than 50 other contestants from across Canada.
“I’m trying to be very positive, but of course I’m still very, very nervous,” she said, adding that Hayley will be helping her train for nationals.
When Bowdery isn’t competing in pageants or modelling, she enjoys dancing. She has been performing since she was a little girl. She attends the Ultimate Steps Dance Studio in Barrie and has experience in lyrical, contemporary, Irish, ballet, tap, and hip-hop dance styles. Like her family members, she is also an avid reader, and she loves anime.
Bowdery’s goals are to continue in the modelling-pageant industry while spreading more awareness about youth suicide. She wishes to continue to be an inspiration and role model to other young females who may be interested in getting involved in competitions.
“The pageant itself is a very good way for young girls to come out of their shells a little bit and do something they’ve never done before – it makes you more confident in yourself and you get to meet so many other teenagers that are just like you while building friendships along the way,” she said.