SOCIETY, they say, is slowly changing its definition of beauty. Gone were the days when women were simply good to look at. Instead women these days are more than just what they look like. Many now are fully committed to create substantive lives that inspire other women to do the same.
For decades, beauty queens have inspired women to a certain standard of beauty. Fortunately, the essence of beauty queens (including our very own) has evolved over the years. One of those beauties is Bb. Pilipinas 2014, Laura Lehmann, who is also Ateneo De Manila University’s UAAP courtside reporter.
From the get go, one would instantly recognize Laura’s statuesque beauty but what truly sets her apart is the fact that aside from her looks, Laura is also extremely smart. The perfect epitome of beauty and brains, the 20-year-old took up Psychology, Neuro Science, and Spanish Studies in the Occidental College in California before joining the Bb. Pilipinas pageant. She subsequently pursed a modeling and hosting career in the Philippines.
A product of Assumption and International School Manila, Laura recalled being an extremely dedicated student athlete. She was part of the Philippine Team for Softball, representing the country in US and Europe while at the same time also dabbling in rugby.
Despite her love for sports, Laura grew up determined to do well in school in order to pursue her ultimate dream of becoming a doctor.
However, her life took a turn when she began entering the world of beauty pageant. Laura recalled, “I was in one of those Christmas family dinners and there were a lot of people and someone mentioned about Bb. Pilipinas. Initially, I said no because I felt it wasn’t for me. But then my mom and I realized why not, I’ve been studying my whole life, it would be nice to try something different.”
So Laura, with the support of her mom, joined the pageant “on a whim” in the hopes of gaining experience from the country’s most esteemed pageant. “That was in December and the pageant was in March, so I took a leave from school and thought, oh it would be fun learning how to be like a girl. I played so many sports in high school and this was my chance to be a girl for awhile. I was really in it for the experience,” she continued.
And it was experience that she had, “It was really different from what I expected it to be. Going in there were so many stereotypes and I was a victim of that. I thought there would be a lot of mean, catty girls who only care about what they look. But it’s more than that, it’s really a career and a skill. So many hours are put into training, like how to walk, talk, and the like.” At the beginning, she felt overwhelmed but it was through the help of her fellow candidates that she was able to not just adapt, but thrive as well.
She was also quick to debunk the myth that beauty queens just relied on their looks to succeed, “What made me adapt to it was the realization that it’s really a career and you have to be smart. It’s more than just looks because when you’re standing in front of 16,000 people on stage in Araneta and thousands more on TV and someone asks you a question, it requires grace under pressure. And I’m impressed at how quickly they think on their feet.”
For Laura, the pageant has taught her the perfect balance between beauty and brains and the understanding that you need to have both in order to succeed in life. When asked what beauty is to her especially in the age of social media, she was quick to say, “I think the most beautiful people are the ones who are happiest with themselves and the things that they are doing. We all have insecurities but once we as long you’re happy, that’s what makes you shine.”
Laura also says that kindness goes along way and it’s something that she learned from her fellow candidates, “Kindess instantly adds to your appeal.”
When asked what her advice is to young girls struggling to value their own beauty, she’s quick to say, “Don’t compare yourself to others because you’re always going to see someone prettier on you, you can’t avoid that so just focus on yourself. Also, find something that makes you happy and something that you love because when you’re happy with what you’re doing, it just radiates and that’s truly what makes you beautiful.”