Representing Barbados at the recent 2017 Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that Shannon Harris will never forget.
Growing up, the 22-year-old beauty never imagined entering a pageant, let alone winning Miss Universe Barbados and going on to represent her country at an international level
Summing up the entire experience for Bajan Vibes, she said it was absolutely phenomenal and will stay with her forever.
“Throughout the whole experience, it was just beautiful to be in the Philippines. That’s something that I did not expect. They are very into pageants and it was very overwhelming. Everywhere we went, they were just cameras all around. They knew you by your name, they knew all about you, they knew your Instagram. I was happy to be there because I have never been to the Philippines before,” she said.
She added: “On the pageant side, it was so overwhelming to represent my country in such a big way because you can’t go any higher than that. So to represent my country after nine years and everyone had the faith in me to do well made me feel good. I was proud to be surrounded around something that we aren’t usually involved in.”
Harris said in the initial stages of participation, she was nervous but quickly put that aside. “ Walking into a room of 86 girls at registration was a bit intimidating because I didn’t know what it would be like. I didn’t know what the pageant world was like. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know who did a million pageants before.”
She went on: “I went there with an open mind. Once I got into the room, I realized it was 86 girls who were exactly what Miss Universe was about — confidently beautiful which allowed all of us to be accepting of each other, accepting of each other’s cultures, accepting of each other’s beauty and it just left us all to be able to get along and there was no need for competitive tension.”
During her three week stay in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, Harris said her most memorable experience would have to be when she got on stage to walk during the evening wear segment of the show.
“The evening gown segment was most memorable. In that moment, I felt very proud and it was a great feeling knowing that everyone was behind me and I felt good to know that I was doing my best. That was a great moment for me and I will never forget that,” she said.
Harris thanked Barbadians for their support, saying she couldn’t have done it otherwise. “Without you guys supporting me, it would not have been possible. It really takes a village to get to Miss Universe,” she added.
She said it was quite overwhelming having so much support from her countrymen even before she left to go to the pageant.
“I was shocked. Having people walk up to me in the supermarket knowing I was in the pageant. I have been involved in modelling before and people never used to come up to me, so it was interesting to see that this would open their eyes and make them support. It was amazing.”
Harris assured Barbadians that she did her best.
“I did everything I could and there’s nothing I regret or would change… It was a once in a lifetime experience because I can never do it again. I hope we can continue to do very well,” she said.
She said one thing that she would take away from the pageant was the fact that she was able to engage in soul-searching.
“I was able to soul-search and find out exactly who I was. Just the fact that I was able to do something that I never considered or planned, I feel accomplished that I was able to go and do that. I definitely know myself a lot more and I know what to ask myself now in case I lose myself or if things get too hectic. Make sure I grow as a person each and everyday,” she added.
Harris encouraged anyone thinking about entering the pageant to go
“I will be on board to help whoever wins the title. It’s something you will never regret.” (DB)