A legally blind woman will be on the panel of judges in the Mrs. Canada Globe pageant, because of her ability to recognize inner beauty.
“I wasn’t sure at first when they asked me,” Ashley Nemeth said. “I was kind of like, ‘You know I’m blind?’ ”
Kim Castle, national director of Mrs. Canada Globe, is excited Nemeth will be on the panel of six judges.
“We want to encourage any woman to enter — any shape, any size, any age, any colour, any ability or disability,” Castle said. “We thought it was important because we recognize beauty is not just on the outside, it’s on the inside.”
Nemeth agreed to judge because it’s a great way to showcase that disability doesn’t exclude you from many things.
“I think it’s amazing that the Mrs. Canada Globe pageant wants to incorporate somebody who is blind into their judging panel because I truly will have no bias on what the contestants look like,” Nemeth said.
The 31-year-old is recognized as an advocate who breaks down barriers for the blind and partially sighted community.
Her vision problems began early in childhood. A genetic disease called ocular albinism, and other eye issues, resulted in her slowly losing her sight. By the time she was a teen, she’d lost most of her vision. Today, Nemeth can only perceive light.
As a role model, she is breaking down barriers and addressing issues her community faces by speaking to the media, as a motivational speaker, a CNIB spokesperson and staff member and her presence on numerous social media platforms.
“I think this is a great step in a more inclusive environment for pageants,” Nemeth said. “Not only does it encourage a non-biased approach, a different approach, but I think it will also encourage some people who have disabilities or different abilities to participate.
“If their physical beauty is taken out of the equation for one or more of the judges, then maybe more people would feel confident about participating.”
Preliminary judging will be held Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the What Women Want show held at the International Trade Centre, Evraz Place in Regina. The finals will be held Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. at the same location.
Admission is free with entry to the What Women Want event.
In the preliminaries, women will receive 40 per cent of their marks for their personality profile, 30 per cent for evening wear and 30 per cent for the swimsuit competition.
The personality profile is a timed one-minute round where each of the 16 contestants can talk about whatever they want.
“It’s their opportunity to shine and share information about themselves, the charities they’re supporting and about the good work they’re doing in their communities,” Castle said.
Scores from the three categories are compiled and the top 10 contestants move on to the final competition.
For the finals, the previous scores are discarded and judges score contestants 50 per cent for their overall impression and 50 per cent for how they answer the on-stage question.
“For overall impression, they’re listening and looking for confidence that you can typically hear in a lady’s voice, whether they’re nervous or not, or if you’re watching them, how they carry themselves on stage,” Castle said. “The girl that typically wins has an ‘it” factor.”
While Nemeth can’t visually assess the overall impression, she’ll talk to each woman one-on-one.
“They’ll describe to her what their swimsuits look like and how they feel in their swimsuit,” Castle said. “That’s a great opportunity for them to interact with somebody who is blind.”
Women from across Canada will be competing for the crown.
The winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to China for two weeks and compete at the Mrs. Globe pageant held there, typically in November.