CONNECTING with young indigenous women and going beyond her comfort zone is what prompted Scarborough resident Julia Louden to enter this year’s Miss Naidoc program.
The leadership and empowerment program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged between 18 and 30 culminates with the crowning of Miss Naidoc Perth at a gala event on Saturday at Crown Perth.
The 23-year-old, who has previously participated in the Kimberley Girl beauty pageant, said she wanted to continue developing herself personally and professionally so that she could become a role model for her community.
“It challenges you to go beyond your comfort zone and it has allowed me to connect with other young indigenous women in Perth with similar goals and passions,” she said.
“More importantly, by getting up there it shows other young indigenous girls that in a world where indigenous people are under-represented in the beauty industry all over the world, we can stand up and say ‘you are beautiful just the way you are’.
“It gives them beauty role models that are like them (as well as leadership role models).
“They can relate to us, therefore they can believe that they can achieve their aspirations and build personal confidence too.”
Since joining the program, Miss Louden, who said her mother Margaret inspired her daily, said she had learnt the qualities it took to make a good leader.
“It is from watching her growing up that I learnt how to stand up and be proud of who I am,” she said. “As part of Miss Naidoc, I have learnt you have to guide people and inspire them in lots of different ways. You can’t just go and tell someone what to do; that’s not how it works.
“I think all of us participating are taking a step in the right direction to becoming great leaders for our communities because we are putting ourselves out there and walking the walk, not just talking the talk.”