Beauty Queen and Bus Driver : Interview with Miss Brighton
The Brighton Journal had the pleasure of speaking to Rebecca Kite, aka Miss Brighton and Miss Sussex, about beauty pageants in 2019, gender stereotyping and bus driving. Rebecca had some important words of wisdom to share with young girls today, about the value of doing what you love.
Miss Brighton on being a beauty queen in 2019 …
“I never thought about doing anything like this. If you had have met me five or six years ago, you would meet a really shy and timid person that you wouldn’t think would ever do anything like this. It was literally five minutes of madness. I went along to the casting not expecting to get anything, or even do it. But I ended up at the final the next month!”
Rebecca explained that last year, when she received the title, the paegent changed its rules slightly, and instead of having a live heat where contenstants do the catwalk, it is was all done by web-selection. She said that she “found this way better because it meant you could get your personality through, rather than just the way you look it’s about who you are as a person as well. I think it’s important to have the opportunity to put yourself across.”
Rebecca explained that The Miss Great Britain final was a lot harder than she had imagined: “The most terrifying part was being on a massive stage in bikini. But it was weird, because whilst its terrifying, it’s also nice at the same time. It gives you so much confidence because you think, this is literally me. The buzz you get from it is indescribable. It was such a confidence boost. It was empowering,”
“I’ve been through a bit of a bad time, so it was an important time for me to come around..”
I asked Rebecca if there was a strong sense of competition between contestants – if she had experienced the nastiness, pressure, and backstabbing that is often rife in an American portrayal of pageants, but she explained that it was quite the opposite:
“We all met up the night before and had a big sleepover. At first I thought it was going to be catty, but it’s not at all, I was really surprised. Everyone always says to be ‘why do you do paegents, but I do it because we have so much fun. A couple of hours before the bikini walk we were eating dominoes.
“You don’t see that side of it, two hours before going out in a bikini and we’re stuffing our faces with dominoes.”
Rebecca told me that, contrary to popular opinion about pageants, she found the whole experience empowering, because she could ‘be who she was’ : “There’s so much in this world, especially through social media, about how people look and how their seen, this kind of does the opposite because it brings people up. It says how you are is who you are, you don’t have to look a certain way, you don’t have to conform to what social media says.”
Miss Brighton on being Miss Brighton….
Rebecca explained to me that before entering the pageant she felt very insecure: “I used to be one of the most self-conscious people you would ever meet in your life. I absolutely hated the way I looked, a lot. When I started doing this it taught me to love myself. It was the complete opposite of what people assume a pageant is, it actually bought me up and gave me confidence.”
“That’s why I originally wanted to do Miss Brighton, because I thought, I’m not stick thin, I’m not perfect.”
“In England, the whole thing is about loving who you are. That’s something people don’t realise, they think you have to look a certain way for beauty pageants, you’ve got to do this or be like that, but it’s not like that at all. It’s not like America, I think its wrong to see beauty in a certain way. At Miss Great Britain we had all different types, size and sizes of women.”
“It’s changing with the times as well, Miss Great Britain have added in a Ms Great Britain title, for people above the age of 27. When you get these other systems it’s good because it changes peoples perceptions.”
Miss Brighton on charity…
“I walked the whole length of the number one bus route, from Mile Oak to Whitehalk. It was 9.6 miles and took just over three and a half hours. It was a really warm day in May and I was dressed as Cinderella, I had a full ballgown on, tiara, the lot. I was proper going for it and it absolutely stuck to me!”
“I had blisters all over my feet, but when I realised how much I had raised I was really happy”.
“Then the next time, I thought I’m going to do as much as I can with this. So I abseiled the i360 for charity.”
“Helping charity costs nothing and it goes a long way. For me, that’s what it’s all about really. For me it’s about giving stuff back. My moto is that life is short. You have to do what you want to do. Raising money for charity gets the best out of me, if I can help someone and make them happy then I’m happy. Being able to go to events and promote things is what I like about being Miss Brighton and Miss Sussex.”
Miss Brighton on being a bus driver…
Whilst dressing up in ballgowns, raising money for charities and parading for pride, Rebecca also has a slightly more ordinary job, she is a bus driving instructor.
She explained that this often shocked audiences at the pageants:
“When I introduce myself and I say, I’m Rebecca, I’m 25, I’m from Brighton and I’m a bus driving instruction. The reaction in the whole entire room is shock, and it’s the same every time. Because they expect the stereotype of hairdresser, beautician, nurse. When you have someone up there in a ballgown saying I’m a bus driving instructor, and they’re like, what?”
“I started driving buses in 2013. I had wanted to do it from when I was really little, I don’t know where it came from. I was always absolutely fascinated by buses, I’d happily just sit and watch them all day. I had always kept it to myself until someone found out at college. I used to get fleet updates on my phone, about what bus was going to be repainted. I was sat at the bus stop with my friend waiting, and an update came up on my phone, I thought ‘oh thats having a paintjob next week’ – thinking that I was saying it in my head – and my friend turned to me and said ‘what are you on about?’ and I was like… nothing!”
“Then everyone found out and said, if that’s what you want to do then do it. After that I was logging onto the website every night, I was so determined.”
“I like challenging the stereotype of what a beauty queen is, and what a bus driver is”
“In theory, being a beauty queen and being a bus driver are two things that fall on the opposite side of the gender spectrum. That’s where I try and push for change. I believe that because of the way that society thinks, as a woman you feel like there are certain jobs you should be doing and it doesn’t have to be like that.”
What would younger you say, if someone came back from the future and told you who you are now?
“Knowing how shy and timid I was growing up, and how little self confidence I had, if someone had have come back from the future and told me that I would be Miss Brighton and Miss Sussex, I would have said no, no chance.”
What would you say to that shy and timid girl? And to insecure girls today?
“I would say don’t worry. I used to panic so much when I was younger, I’d think what happens if life doesn’t go this way or that way. But I didn’t realise that when you’re young you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.”
“If something bad happens, that gives space for something new to come in. Everything happens for a reason, so just enjoy it. That’s what I’d say to my younger self”
All images in this article
© Rebecca Kite
Rebecca is in the process of setting up her website:
Missrebecca.co.uk will be in action shortly.