Breaking Down the Barriers for Worldwide Competition

It is incredible to believe that The Miss Universe Competition has been running for over 70 years. Officially recognised as starting in 1952, throughout this period, the rules for selection of entrants have remained fairly static, however the times they are a changin’!

In the past several years boundary lines have shifted, and now married women and mothers can compete, and the upper age limit (previously 18-28years) has been extended.

For the first time in its history, two transgender women competed in the 2023 event as well as an entrant (Miss Nepal) who was considered to be a ‘plus size’ competitor.

Further breaking down the draconian barriers, is 33 year old Philippine born Model, and Dural resident, Christine Balaguer, who is profoundly deaf. Christine has been selected as a State Finalist for Miss Universe, Australia 2024.

I met with her last month for a photo shoot at the new Galston Aquatic Centre, and I must admit I was slightly concerned as to how I and the Photographic team would communicate – as I do not know Auslan, and Christine does not lip read extensively.

I should not have worried – with the help of lots of gesturing, paper, pen, notes on phones and an App called AVA, we managed to complete a fantastic shoot. Christine’s professionalism and determination not to let her deafness get in the way of living her best life, as well as her obvious natural beauty – external and internal was inspirational to see.

On being selected as a finalist, Christine says,

“This milestone is not just a personal achievement, but a testament to the power of dreams transcending borders.

From my pageant beginnings in the Philippines to this moment in Australia, the path has been rich with challenges and triumphs. As a deaf contestant, I’ve faced hurdles, but each step has been a testament to the strength of perseverance and the beauty of diversity.

This opportunity to represent in the prestigious Miss Universe Australia pageant is more than a chance for personal glory; it’s a platform to amplify the voices of those who’ve been told their dreams are limited. Breaking barriers is not just a goal; it’s a commitment to paving the way for inclusivity and showcasing that beauty knows no bounds.

I extend my deepest gratitude to everyone who has been a part of my journey and believed in the power of dreams. This isn’t just about me; it’s about opening doors for others and proving that with passion, determination, and unwavering belief, one can conquer any obstacle. Here’s to chasing dreams, shattering stereotypes, and embracing the limitless potential within us all.”

The last Australian to take home the Miss Universe crown was Jennifer Hawkins in 2004, so we wish Christine all the luck in the world.

To follow Christine’s journey see her Instagram profile: @christinebalaguer_