“If I didn’t get burnt that day where would I be now?” Miss International UK tells us why she owes her pageant success to a leg burn

Following her recent success in Miss International, Harriotte Lane tells us what it’s really like competing in pageants and why she’s thankful for all the negative experiences she’s been through.

Photo credit: Harriotte Lane

Harriotte Lane has been competing in pageants for the past five years but feels she owes her most recent title of Miss International UK to all the negative experiences that guided her to where she is today.

Harriotte, 18, has been competing in pageants since she was 13 years old and most recently made it to the final five at Miss International in Japan, which she describes as her biggest achievement to date.

Photo credit: Harriotte Lane

She said: “It’s an insane feeling! There were 83 contestants so to make top 15 was just amazing, never mind top eight!

Harriotte and the top five on stage celebrating, Photo credit: Harriotte Lane

“A lot of the feedback was ‘the UK is just really enjoying herself’ and I think it got me attention without knowing.”

Harriotte taking a selfie with her pageant friends, photo credit: Harriotte Lane 

Harriotte learning about Japanese culture, photo credit: Harriotte Lane

Harriotte with her pageant friends, photo credit: Harriotte Lane

Harriotte, who is from North Tyneside, started her pageant journey after receiving a burn on her leg when she was 12 years old, which resulted in her having to have a skin graft. Her confidence was shaken by this but when her Mum, Sarah, read that pageants were a good way to boost confidence the rest became history.

“I ask myself sometimes, if I didn’t get burnt that day where would I be now? Because I know for a fact I wouldn’t be doing pageants and then my life without pageants? I’m not sure where I’d be. It’s been such a change in my life, it’s given me confidence to speak to everybody, be myself and not care about other people’s opinions.

“Losing confidence in that moment was kind of an amazing thing because it built me so much stronger.”

Harriotte speaking on stage at Miss international, wearing an Anaz gown, photo credit: Harriotte Lane  

Harriotte’s success at Miss International this November extends beyond just being placed in the top five, she was also the youngest (at just 18 years old), the tallest (at six feet) and only European girl to achieve such a high placement.

Harriotte on stage in Miss International in her ‘National costume’ gown, designed by Kathryn Russel. Photo credit: Harriotte Lane

When asked about her experience of the pageant overall she said: “It was much busier than I thought. I had morning, afternoon and evening events and I was so tired all the time. Each night I never had more than four hours sleep, it got to the point where you’d be on a five minute bus drive and you’d literally just fall asleep against the window.

“The day before the final I only had one hour of sleep. I was just organising everything, rehearsals finished at 11pm and I had to repack to move everything to the stage area so by the time I’d finished I had to be up in an hour to get ready.”

Harriotte on stage in Miss international, photo credit: Harriotte Lane 

However, the getting ready process isn’t what you’d imagine. Harriotte actually does her own hair and makeup. She laughs as she says: “Some of the girls had a separate room in the hotel with a stylist, hairdresser and makeup artist to get them ready every day and there was me trying to iron clothes with straighteners because I couldn’t be bothered to ask for an iron from reception.”

Whilst her burn may have been the initial motivation to start pageants it wasn’t the only challenge Harriotte faced growing up.

She experienced bullying throughout her time at high school and faced battles with anxiety in her teenage years, however, much like her burn, she didn’t let either stop her.

“I could never win their approval” she says.

“In school kids are just mean, you’ve just got to forget about it, and you know what they motivated me more because here I am doing what I’m doing, so I’m grateful for some of those negative experiences.”

Her battle with anxiety started after being sexually assaulted at just 16. She bravely waives her anonymity to tell her story.

“It was 12 o’clock during the day, I’d just been to see my friend, and it was at the barriers at Central Station in Newcastle, I was literally just sexually assaulted there and then.

“I remember the first time I got on a train again I was actually sick the whole way back. Like physically ill because of how traumatizing it was.

“I couldn’t have anyone walk behind me. I suffered a lot of anxiety in crowded areas and only very recently, in the last 6 months, I’ve been able to walk alone.”

Harriotte travelling alone to Japan for the Miss international pageant, photo credit: Harriotte Lane

When Harriotte came out with her story she received hundreds of responses from women who had been through similar experiences.

“Some of them, I was the first person they ever told so it was an incredible experience to say I’ve actually changed people’s lives.

“I totally believe any negative experience can turn into a positive one, I got people to tell their story and not be ashamed but I think you can tell with all my stories that when something bad happens to me I try and make it positive, and it’s got me so far in life.”

When asked what she would tell her younger self Harriotte said: “Don’t listen to anybody else!

“That dragged me down so many times, caring so much what other people think. Even just this year I’ve not listened to a single person, just done everything for me and made myself number one priority.”

Photo Credit: Harriotte Lane

So, what’s next for Harriotte?

“Over 2020, I’m going to focus on my career, grow my Instagram and focus on modelling so we’ll see what happens but 2020 is going to be my year – I know that for sure!”

Follow Harriotte on Instagram @harriotte_ 

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