Twelve Questions: Ella Langsford

Ella Langsford, 20, was crowned Miss New Zealand last month and heads to Jakarta in September to compete against beauty queens from around the world. The daughter of Auckland art dealer Gary Langsford, she is studying for a business degree and works nights as a hostess at SkyCity Casino.

Ella Langsford says charity is a large element of beauty pageants, and critics are largely uneducated about the events. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Ella Langsford says charity is a large element of beauty pageants, and critics are largely uneducated about the events. Photo / Brett Phibbs

1. Have beauty pageants lost their allure?

No - I believe not. I think that the media does not give pageantry as much positive publicity any more. However, they are very much the same as they used to be. People think it's all about swimwear and having a nice body and a beautiful face but you have to be able to speak in public and interview and it really is about inner beauty. It's a lot about charity.

2. Why do they still have the bikini section then?

They have to. It's a franchise here and it's always been a traditional part of the pageant. Now they call it beach fashion and you can wear a sarong or whatever if you want to. And it's the tiniest part of the competition. We rehearsed for five months for the pageant and [the swimwear section] was 40 seconds on the night.

3. So the perception of the pageant is wrong?

I think people are just uneducated about it. They think that's all it is.

We try and get good media surrounding it but it doesn't always work out. We were going to go on breakfast TV to explain how charity was a big part of the pageant but the weather guy wanted us to wear bikinis. I wasn't surprised because obviously that's what he thinks people want to see. But to be there saying "it's about inner beauty" while wearing a bikini would just prove what people think. We said no, and we didn't do it.

4. What did your father think about you entering?

He was really supportive. He was the same as the general public of New Zealand - his first question was about the swimwear and whether I wanted to do that. But when he saw me doing rehearsals for five months and how I changed, he became more and more supportive. Someone said to him the other day, "how does it feel to not be the most famous Langsford?"

5. How would you describe your childhood?

I travelled a lot, whether it was skiing in Queenstown or swimming in Fiji. I had a very fortunate childhood and am very grateful for it still today. I loved my school and was involved in everything. Music, swimming, the arts, languages and even academic groups.

6. And there was lots of art?

I was surrounded by lots of artists. I grew up with them really. Dick Frizzell, Karl Maughan, Max Gimblett. Uncle Max I call him. I got an email from him the other day congratulating me and saying he wants to host me in New York on my world tour.

7. What does feminism mean to you?

Equality of females and males. Being socially equal. It's a good thing obviously but [women my age] don't talk about it. We can see we are equal now and there's no doubt women will be out working. I don't know one person who just wants to get married and not work. Generally speaking, I think we are equal so there's no need to talk about it.

8. What would be your ideal life at age 30?

I am a huge family person. So my dream would be to be married with three children and working part-time for a large corporate company in marketing or advertising either here or overseas. New York!

9. Do you worry about the social pressures on girls these days?

I think the biggest one is body issues. Having been through modelling and school I'd say that's the big thing. I haven't caved in to the social pressure to be stick-thin. I'm a healthy size 10. I think it's moving away from being really thin to be more of a healthy look where you go to the gym and eat well. Your school group and your parents influence you a lot and you can be strong and be against those social pressures.

10. What's it like working as a casino hostess?

We work in different areas - the Platinum Room, 8, sometimes you MC events. It's a great job. As a hostess we welcome the guests and take them to their table then serve them drinks for the night. It's incredibly social which I love. You talk to all kinds of people from all over the world. Heaps of them know I'm Miss New Zealand now.

11. Have you had any marriage proposals?

That's one thing I haven't had. You get everything else there ...

12. Do you think there will always be a place for beauty contests?

I believe there should and will always be a place for beauty contests. They are a lot about inner beauty and personality and I think that the journey of a pageant will never leave a young girl. I cross my fingers Miss World will go on forever as the opportunities for the women of the world are endless.

- NZ Herald

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