Words: Alicia Brittle
Rochelle Barrett, who suffered third degree burns to 70% of her body after being burnt with boiling water at just eight months old, is planning a beauty pageant for women with disfigurements.
After spending years hiding her burns with clothes and makeup, Rochelle set out to create the Miss Unique Beauty Pageant to “celebrate all forms of beauty… any other circumstance not traditionally celebrated in beauty and fashion”.
Deciding to confront her own body image after the birth of her daughter, Rochelle reflects that: “As a teenager I realised I didn’t look like, and would never look like, any of the girls on the magazines or the beautiful girls at school.”
“My daughter starts secondary school in September and social media is a really big deal for girls, adjusting your entire image to look what is classed as “perfect” […] but there isn’t a “perfect” so you’re constantly seeking something that doesn’t exist.”
Rochelle gained a huge amount of confidence after taking part in the Miss Caribbean UK pageant in London in 2016. She says that the experience was “terrifying but amazing” and that she “felt empowered” and so decided to create the pageant for all women, promoting a positive body image and addressing the fact that non-conformity is a positive thing.
“It’s taken a long time for me to believe for myself but I’ve really learned to embrace my body now.”
The Miss Unique Beauty Pageant is planned for next spring.