Nineteen-year-old former St Stanislaus High beauty Arian Dahlia Richmond last Saturday evening bested seven other beauties and seized the Miss Bartica Regatta title and crown at the Bartica Community Centre Ground.
“I feel so happy and overwhelmed right now to know that I am the queen but at the same time I am very excited about fulfilling the responsibilities that comes with it,” Arian said in an interview with The Scene.
The scheduled eight o’clock pageant began more than an hour late and went into the wee hours of Sunday morning when Arian was finally crowned by last year’s queen, Gabriella Chapman.
The week before the pageant there were preliminary segments at the same venue, which saw the sashing, introduction and displaying of costumes by the contestants. As the coronation night drew closer some other preliminaries were the intelligence segment which was done at the Channel Five Studio in Bartica and the top model segment which took place at the Aruwai Resort where the contestants showcased their best struts modelling local designer pieces.
The coronation night saw an opening dance by the ladies.
During the talent segment Arian sang a cover od Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved”, which was dedicated to victims of sexual abuse. The segments to follow were swimsuit, evening gown and question and answer.
Arian won four awards: Miss Intelligence, Miss Top Model, Miss Body Beautiful and Best Evening Wear.
The training running up to the pageant, the new queen admitted, was rigorous. She added that though training began three months prior, they weren’t always busy as they should have been and there were many things they needed to have that were delayed in getting to them and that slowed the process. This discouraged many of contestants who were back and forth deciding whether they were going to go through with the pageant.
The pageant, it was said, was expected to have 12 finalists, but at one time this number dropped to nine then to four. Finally, eight contestants followed through with it.
However, through all of this, trainer Sonje Marslowe was said to have remained firm and Arian praised her for the hard work she put in despite all the challenges. As it grew closer to the big night, things got even more hectic and saw the Arian and other contestants putting in some grueling training hours. Many days saw them training from five or six in the afternoon up to midnight; other days demanded that they trained all day if they were ever going to be prepared.
Arian was somewhat upset that they had to take on most of the expenses themselves as she expected that the pageant committee would have gotten around to helping them find sponsors. Her expenses, she noted, included hiring some of Guyana’s finest designers to ensure she was properly outfitted. While she strutted a Randy Madray one-of-a-kind gown for her evening wear, her costume was another statement put together by designers Isaiah Luther and Paul Charles.
Ariel said that since she was old enough to watch television, she was always glued to the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants, watching them with her mother. Yet whatever fascination she had with watching pageants, it never went beyond that into participating. At school, she said, only the light-skinned children were considered beautiful and though a stunner herself, she never saw her dark skin as beautiful. Because of this, just the thought of entering a pageant was intimidating. Some years later, when she had built her confidence, she began wondering about the Miss Regatta Pageant. She learned that pageantry goes beyond beauty and promotes talent and intelligence and women are expected to be selfless. By last year’s pageant she was certain that this year was hers.
Such an important moment was something she wished she could have shared with her father if only she could bring him back to life. Arian mentioned that he named her for the Arians, believed to be the first Christians who were persecuted for their faith yet remained strong. Dahlia, her middle name, is a flower and she added that she is just like that flower, wild and free. Both names, she said, describe her well. Arian lost her father when she was just two years old.
Another reason that she never saw herself in a pageant was the fact that coming from a single-parent home, she led a life that required more than just studying and at 12 years old she began selling egg balls. Some years later, after moving on from St Stanislaus to President’s College where her mother taught at the time, she sold at the school. By age 15, the little entrepreneur widened her little business to selling makeup. Yet while she was tasked with extra responsibilities, she described herself as the class clown who always wanted to make others happy. Even today Arian remains her jovial self, always cheerful and excited about new challenges and adventurers.
Having a love for makeup artistry she took up the art five years ago and a few months ago, acquired a certificate through Makeup Artist Clinton Duncan who she deems a great inspiration for his unorthodox work that steps away from tradition and gives a personal touch each time.
With Miss Body Beautiful on her list of awards, one would think this Bartica sensation hit the gym non-stop but all she does is jog every day. Jogging for her goes all the way back to school days when she ran distance races. She represented her school many times and was just one win away from making it to nationals. According to Arian, she needed three wins, but only managed two. Yet those years paved a way for this award. But jogging is where keeping fit and staying healthy stops because she loves Chinese takeout.
The pageant, the young woman said, bettered her as she gained the stamina needed to endure, she learnt to walk in heels and to face the fear of stage fright. In the run up to the pageant she and the other contestants joined broadcasters every Saturday on the Bartica Regatta Vibes radio programme which aided in preparing them for public speaking.
The Miss Bartica Regatta Pageant, Arian said, further gave her a sisterhood with the girls especially the twins who competed, Tianna and Tia Rigby, the latter of whom won the Miss Congeniality Award.
For girls who feel today like Arian felt some years ago, she encourages them to give pageantry a try. “Pageantry allows you to see your true self. You’re always under pressure and more is expected of you. You never realize your limits until you try. It takes you out of your comfort zone to makes you your best,” she said.
Chief Judge and executive producer of the Caribbean Next Top Model Wendy Fitz William encouraged Arian to try for the competition advising her that no goal is ever too big.
Already she has made up her mind that come next year she’ll be representing Guyana on the Caribbean Next Top Model runway. Arian also has her sights set on competing at the Miss Universe Guyana in the future.
The queen whose platform was ‘Com-batting Sexual Abuse among Hinterland Communities’ has already began planning a camp around this. The camp called ‘Guyanese Glow Bartica’ is expected to be held at the end of the next term. Its objective is to neutralize sex education between boys and girls by promoting gender fluid activities such as sports, academics and art classes. The camp will cater for youth between the ages 12-18. Arian hopes this is the beginning of an organisation she wants to someday form to provide holistic sexual education as well as counselling for sexually abused victims especially children.
The Scorpio is a blogger on her Instagram page ‘Journey of a Guyanese Girl’ and hopes to someday write a book about what it is like for a girl to grow up in Guyana.
Her free time finds her enjoying singing jazz and blues, jogging, travelling, and reading autobiographies and history.
Arian’s prizes include trophies, a two-day, one-night stay at the Baganara Resort for two, two outfits from That Look Boutique, a makeover by Toya Halo Salon, a Samsung J2 handset and $300,000.
First runner-up was Kasherell Payne, while Takeisa Boston came third.