Meera Bhonsle: Miss Gamecock 2018

The life of pageantry seems glamorous, fun and extremely time consuming. For those of you who are interested in becoming a queen, Meera Bhonsle, Miss Gamecock 2018, gave Her Campus SC an insider's look at what it’s like to be a student involved in this fast-paced, eventful world.

Her Campus South Carolina: What is your major and minor?

Meera Bhonsle: I’m a Multimedia/Print Journalism major with a minor in Retail Marketing.

HCSC: What organizations are you passionate about/ involved in on campus?

MB: I try to be really involved within my sorority—Kappa Kappa Gamma. I was our chapter’s Greek Week Chairman this year, and I’ve taken up the position of Active Alumni Chairman for the year, which I am so excited about. I also love volunteering with our philanthropy events, because our philanthropy, Reading is Fundamental, is something that is very close to my heart.

HCSC: What are your plans after graduation?

MB: I will be graduating this coming May, which is a little frightening, because the time has FLOWN by.  Once finals are over, I’ll begin the application to grad school and law school. I’m hoping to either complete a Master’s in Journalism and write for Southern Living or Vogue, or attend law school to become a child advocate attorney.

HCSC: What is your dream job?

MB: I have a lot of different things in mind… I’d love to work for Vogue, but I’d also love to be on CNN. But, my heart is also set on helping children, so being a child advocate attorney would mean that I could fight for so many suffering children. It’s a lot, I know, sometimes I wish I could be Barbie and just do everything!

HCSC: How and why did you initially get involved with pageantry?

MB: I competed in my first pageant when I was just a few months old. I won, and I think from then on, my mom decided to make a hobby of it for me.  So, it’s been a long time!

HCSC: What has pageantry taught you?

MB: Pageantry has taught me to be a confident and genuine woman. We live in a world that is becoming so obsessed with outward appearance, and as odd as it may sound, competing in and judging pageants has taught me that the ultimate test is how big your heart is – how much you are willing to help change the world by starting in your community.

HCSC: What pageants have you participated in other than Miss Gamecock?

MB: I’ve competed in so many pageants, it’s hard to keep count. Since high school, the biggest ones I’ve competed in are Miss Wildcat (my high school pageant), Miss Lexington County Peach Festival, Miss Lexington, Miss Aiken and Miss Gamecock (February and December).

HCSC: Which pageant was your favorite to be a participant in and why?

MB: My most favorite pageant I’ve competed in was Miss Wildcat, which was my high school pageant. I know that sounds a little lame, but I won the overall title of Miss Wildcat my senior year, and I think that was a pivotal point for me because it opened up a lot of doors in the pageant world.It is the reason I decided to continue pageantry and move into the Miss America Organization.

HCSC: What is the process of qualifying for Miss South Carolina?

MB: To qualify for Miss South Carolina, you must be between the ages of 17 and 24 and win a registered local preliminary pageant. I believe Miss Gamecock is still not officially registered, so I will go in as an “at-large” contestant.

HCSC: What do you most look forward to on your road to Miss South Carolina?

MB: I am most looking forward to all the kids I get to work with on my “journey” with the crown. I am so passionate about helping children and ensuring every child grows up with a stable role model. If I have the chance to be that role model for just one child, it means the world to me.

HCSC: Are there any misconceptions about pageants and the participants you would like to address?

MB: There are SO many misconceptions about pageant girls, some of them completely blow my mind. The first one is that we don’t eat. I can tell you that I LOVE food and I love carbs and junk food and every food that is probably so bad for my health. In fact, when I competed at Miss South Carolina in 2016, my evening gown had huge pockets in it and I kept snacks and candy in my dress at all times and would eat before and after I got on stage. I was also munching during crowning—which was televised (oops). Another misconception of pageant girls, is that we are ditzy girls who say, “world peace” at the end of everything. This is something that really bothers me because people do not realize the level of difficulty in the questions we are asked in our personal interviews and for onstage interviews. It is imperative that we are well-read on current events because judges will ask hard-hitting, hot-topic questions and we have to be quick on our feet and answer them exceptionally.

HCSC: How do you feel about the removal of the swimsuit portion in the Miss America circuit?

MB: The swimsuit portion of pageants, no matter what system, has been a controversial topic for years. I personally love this portion of the competition because it is a time for the contestants to showcase the energetic side of their personalities. I do not feel that this portion of the competition should be removed because pageants in general rely heavily on the contestant’s confidence level. If you are confident in your own skin and with the way you look, you shouldn’t be afraid to strut the stage. This phase of the competition is meant to showcase the contestant’s dedication to a healthy lifestyle, but by no means is there a guideline that says you have to look a certain way.  A healthy body does not mean a long and lean size 2, a healthy body comes in different shapes and sizes, but it’s up to the contestant to carry herself in a confident manner to celebrate her uniqueness.  

HCSC: What would you like to say to those young women and girls looking to become involved in pageantry?

MB: My biggest piece of advice for young women and girls looking to compete in pageants is that it’s not about you. Having a crown and holding a title are meaningless without the community service, and philanthropic work you will do. It’s so much more than having a pretty face and fancy gown—you have to have a heart for people and be willing to sacrifice a lot of time to help others.

Wow, so much goes into pageantry and the life that must be lead when holding a title. Meera Bhonsle is such an inspiration and has an amazing view point. We are so impressed and wish her the best of luck running for Miss South Carolina, and hopefully at Miss America!