We perceive beauty queens as flawless and just poised and gorgeous from head-to-toe. But behind the glamor, they are also humans with imperfections and struggles. And the way they rise up from those challenges to become empowered is what makes them more relatable and inspiring.
In an episode of TWBA, Catriona Gray, then-newly crowned as Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 2018 looked back on her humble beginnings before becoming the queen she is today.
Catriona was born in Australia where she finished high school. She would visit the Philippines during school breaks not for pure leisure but to also hustle. She had her first modelling gig in the Philippines at 16.
After finishing high school at 18, she decided to go back to the Philippines and stay for good using only her own savings to support her newfound independence. This is why she identifies herself more as a Filipino-Australian.
“I would say that I am a Filipino-Australian because even though I was born in Australia, that’s not my choice. That’s more of my parents’ decision. My decision to go back to the Philippines at 18 was like a self-discovery journey for me, my first step into figuring out who I am, what do I want to do with my life, and just pushing myself out of the comfort zone,” she related.
Catriona learned to thrive on her own. She even does her own laundry and all household chores. She supports herself financially. “I was never helped by my parents, not that they didn’t want to but I wanted to prove to myself na kaya ko ‘to. Ever since, I’ve been totally self-sufficient and I’m very proud about that.”
Catriona said she never dreamt of becoming a beauty queen. Her childhood ambitions would change over the years but she didn’t grow up a stranger to pageantry. Although it was more of her mother’s wish, Catriona had her first pageant at 5 by joining Little Miss Philippines in Australia.
In 2016, Catriona represented the Philippines in the Miss World pageant wherein she made it to the Top 5. Brave and determined to prove she’s meant for more, she joined Binibining Pilipinas and bagged the ticket to represent the country in the Miss Universe stage in 2018. Catriona brought home the fourth Miss Universe crown.