Miss Canada advocates for clean water

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Miss Canada Siera Bearchell is more than just her body size.

In an exclusive interview with Senior Correspondent Pia Hontiveros on CNN Philippines' News.PH, Bearchell talks about her clothing business, Watered Down Apparel.

She says the brand, which sells sweaters, shirts, and other casual wear, "[provides] 30 days of clean water for every item we sell."

"Right now we work in Kenya, Ethiopa, Ghana and Haiti, but... some people don't know that there are some communities in Canada who don't have access to clean water," Bearchell explained on CNN Philippines' News.PH.

"So those remote communities struggle with access to clean water and eventually-we're not in those communities yet, but we eventually wanna get there," said the Canadian beauty queen who was top 9 in the Miss Universe pageant.

The business was co-founded by Bearchell and Chris Gratton in 2015.

"And it's a fun thing. I love business, I love entrepreneurship," she added. "Any way that you can combine those passions and then give back is always fun."

The 23-year-old law student from Moose Jaw is also a runner. She completed her first 26-mile (42.2-kilometer) marathon a few days before bagging the Miss Canada title.

She went on to represent her country at the Miss Universe pageant, which culminated last January 30 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay. Iris Mittenaere of France bagged the coveted title.

Beyond body image

Bearchell gained even more attention when she took pride in her body image after comments about her weight surfaced last month. She was criticized online for putting on more weight compared to the other contestants.

Related: Miss Canada unfazed by body shamers

"When we think about our family and friends, the people that we love... we think about the things they love, about their passions," said Bearchell. "I don't know why we don't see that in others, in strangers. We ultimately judge right based on their appearance."

However, Bearchell does not want to be reduced to her advocacy of body image.

She noted that "Miss Universe is trying to have a different image than a beauty pageant," but is hesitant to say that inclusivity for different body shapes is why they chose her.

"Maybe they were trying to make a statement by putting me there, but again that would draw (that) they put me there because of my body and because it was different," Bearchell said.

"If anyone got to hear my interviews, they would hear that I have so much more going than just this platform of body image," she added. "I'm a law student, I'm a business owner, I lost my family home to a house fire and worked with the Red Cross to work with families like mine."

Bearchell added there are still plenty of things that she is working on and looking forward to doing.

"So I'm more than this whole body shaming thing, I am more than size, I am more than a pretty face, and so many of the girls at Miss Universe are [too]," she added.

Behind the scenes

Bearchell also said that the length of Miss Universe — which lasts two to three weeks from pre-pageant activities to the coronation night — is to test the girls' stamina and see who is "consistent in enjoying every moment."

She added there are also closed-door interviews with the judges which are not broadcast, where the judges know the contestants and their advocacies.

Bearchell also said judges check who "remain true to themselves throughout the competition rather than starting out being something and ending being something else."

"There are some girls that we've met who are remarkable women. And from the outside, watching on stage, maybe they don't have that stage presence that you look for, but they made all the girls around them feel comfortable, laugh, have fun, and that's what a Miss Universe should be-somebody who makes others feel good," she said.

"So that's what you don't see behind the scenes... who's nice to others, who's having fun, who's helping a girl with her dress when she really needs it and maybe who's not being quite as friendly and really into the competition," she added.

Bearchell said she wished people saw more takes from behind the scenes "because people get very judgmental online."

She said that a number of netizens commented that she did not deserve a spot in the top 9 because she was "overweight."

"But little did they know what went on in my interviews, what did I talk about, what did I stand for," Bearchell said. "Those are the things that the judges are really looking for."

 

Bearchell announced her return to Canada on Instagram earlier this week, but shared that she may be coming back to the Philippines soon.

"I am also excited to share that plans are underway for me to return to the Philippines," she wrote. "I can't wait to see you all again!"