Less than a week before flying out to Albania to represent Australia in the Miss Summer World beauty pageant, Mandurah model Talia Harris said she is still in shock.
Ms Harris decided to sign up for the competition only a few weeks ago, and she was blown-away to find out she was the chosen girl to represent the nation in Europe.
“I nearly dropped my phone,” she said.
“I’m quite shocked actually because it’s my first national title.
“It’s going to be an absolute learning experience that’s for sure.”
The 27-year-old, who had a very tough childhood after being bullied at school, only set foot in the beauty world a year ago, but she has already participated in 11 competitions and taken home more than one sash.
She decided to start taking part in beauty competitions after being convinced by a workmate, and she found in them a safe space to get her self-confidence back.
“I got bullied really badly from kindergarten to pretty much all the way through until I finished school,” she said.
“For me I was never accepted in a crowd.
“I went from dealing with bullying and then doing my first competition to winning crowd favourite, it was such a shell shock.”
She said participating in the contests is slowly making her feel more confident and has completely changed her perspective on bikini competitions.
“It’s actually really fun and the girls have been extremely welcoming,” she said.
“I’ve never run out into anywhere where people would boo or girls are horrible, it’s actually quite self-building and it makes you feel better about yourself.
“There’s good and bad in all areas but what I’ve found with my experience is that all the girls that I’ve dealt with are lovely, welcoming and helpful.”
A worker at Crown casino at night and a beauty queen by day, Ms Harris only participated in her first pageant in March, however she is ready to take on the challenge in Europe.
“It’s going to be so much fun, specially being in a competition where there’s so many different parts of it as well as being around girls from all over the world,” she said.
“I want to be able to look back and say that I’m proud of how I did.
“But then I also want to make sure that I make all the wonderful girls that I’ve met in competitions here proud because they all had a part in helping me walk on stage and not seem nervous.”
To follow Ms Harris’ experience in Albania’s Miss Summer World competition check the Miss Summer Australia Facebook page.