October 26, 2017
Growing up, Radhika Patel loved watching big beauty pageants like Miss America or Miss Universe, but one always stuck out to her as something special – the Miss World competition.
“It is a common misconception to call it a beauty pageant, but their motto is ‘Beauty with a Purpose,’” said Patel, 24, a registered nurse in the emergency department at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, Delaware County. “Every girl is beautiful, but what is your purpose in life?”
Miss World contestants are asked to present a special philanthropic project that they will champion. That's what drew Patel to compete in this year’s America's Miss World 2017 competition – her first pageant – in August in Orlando. (The winner, Clarissa Bower of Florida, will represent the United States in the global pageant on November 18.)
“They really work on advocating and encouraging the girls to get involved in their own communities and to pick a cause they believe in. I wanted to use my platform to bring attention to how many children in third-world countries don’t have access to the education they deserve,” explained Patel, who lives in East Norriton, Montgomery County.
That philanthropic project, based on the pageant's “Beauty with a Purpose” theme, is one of five phases of the competition. The others are:
• An interview to showcase their public speaking ability
• A series of physical fitness challenges, both individual and team
• Evaluation of the contestants' social media postings for style, elegance and an understanding of what interests people
• And a fashion show in front of a live audience and a photogenic contest. (Miss World eliminated the swimsuit portion of the competition in 2014.)
To prepare for the America's Miss World competition, Patel hit the gym harder and ate a little healthier, but mostly, she spent time developing her project. It was important for her to stay true to who she really is.
“If I had won, I wanted to be a role model, and you can’t prepare to be a role model, either you are or you aren’t. I didn’t want to fake it. I wanted to go as I exactly am,” said the Holy Family University nursing graduate.
Patel’s favorite part through the whole experience was meeting and forming friendships with the other women: “As a nurse and a model, everyone always says how well-rounded I am, so it was nice to spend some time with like-minded girls.”
Patel also had the chance to meet Miss World 2016 Stephanie Del Valle of Puerto Rico at the August competition. She was impressed by Del Valle's ample philanthropic work.
“She was showing me pictures and telling me stories about how she visited orphanages and nursing homes in third-world countries," Patel said. "I have kept in touch with her since the competition and she has also been helping out with hurricane recovery back home in Puerto Rico.”
While wanting to be a positive role model and helping others was a big part of why Patel competed in Miss World, she also loves the creative aspect of being in the beauty and fashion world. She has been modeling part time for the past two years for boutiques, bridal shows, makeup artists and different photographers and is already pre-booked with photo shoots and fashion shows for the rest of the year.
“I have always had a creative side," she said. "I grew up being a dancer and have always loved fashion. I also love studying people. How they walk, how they dress, how they do their hair and makeup says a lot about who they are as a person.”
Patel has no set current plans to compete again in America's Miss World, but she said it was such a positive experience that she absolutely would if her schedule allows.