Eden Boutilier: Doing it her way, pageant by pageant
“I compete in pageants to let my charisma shine on a global stage; my only competition is myself and becoming a stronger person than I was yesterday,” says Eden Boutilier, Miss Global Canada 2015. “I believe life is an adventure and every pageant and opportunity I have to grow I grasp whole heartedly. Your life is your legacy, how cool will it be to tell my great-grandchildren someday that I was Miss Canada?”
Eden Boutilier didn’t know anything about these events growing up in Nova Scotia, and she was unlikely to have had reason to think about them. By the time she went to Junior High, she was shy, overweight, and plagued with the insecurities all teenagers imagine and magnify in their heads. In short she was the perfect target for bullies, Eden vowed she would never allow herself to be the underdog again.
Taking a critical look at her life, she registered for every sport she could, lost weight and became fit and healthy. She turned her attitude around and she became who she wanted to be. If you were to meet her now, it is impossible to imagine her as a bully’s pushover or an insecure teenager. She exudes health and sparkle. When her self-deprecating laugh kicks in she seems to have become, all of a sudden, your best friend.
Eden works in a fast moving world. As the Communications Coordinator at Keyano College, she is part of a small team that represents the outward looking ‘face’ of the campus. Cool, calm and confident, she has a Degree in Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent and the natural aplomb that is needed to act for a dynamic educational institution. She moved across Canada to Fort McMurray for the opportunities that were not evident in Nova Scotia. Clearly she is a modern woman who knows what she wants from life and is happy to pursue her goals.
Looking back at her last year of high school, slim, svelte and smart, the world was at her feet. She was off to University, studying something she was interested in and eminently suited for. She was more comfortable in her own skin and had blossomed from the ugly duckling into a beautiful swanlike creature. So why not put yourself through the ultimate test? Remember, this was a young lady that who had only recently shaken off her awkward teen years. She was confident, yes, but still a little tentative. And then she saw the advertisement for the Miss Teen Nova Scotia contest.
“I decided to compete in my first beauty pageant on a whim and it has been the best decision of my life. Since then I have gain confidence in how I present myself to others and an ample understanding of who I am as a person,” explains Eden.
Wouldn’t that be the final affirmation? Just being accepted as good enough to be able to enter; would that justify the ego trip of entering in the first place? It did, and while she didn’t win, something else happened. Eden had fun, and more importantly, she worked out the rules very quickly.
She realized there was a way to succeed at this pageant game and it had to do with the parts off stage. The interviews, the networking, the affability. Everyone who entered was beautiful, the winners shone through in other ways, and Eden knew she could do that.
For those who don’t know, and that’s most of us, beauty pageants can open up a world of travel and fine clothing, as well as opportunities to experience new cultures. Eden, after her first year University and without a spare penny in her pocket, looked at all the possibilities and said, “Why not?” She worked hard, borrowed gowns, raised funds and chased her dreams, not matter the obstacle in her way. At this time she headed to Toronto to represent Eastern Nova Scotia at Miss Canada Globe in 2011, landing a top five finish leading her to represent Canada at Miss World League of Beauty and Fashion 2012 in Bodrum, Turkey. While in Turkey she won the title of Miss Personality and grew even more as a competitor.
She’s had some fun over the years chasing adventures that have been made available by the competitions, things she wouldn’t normally have done. Her latest being one of 48 women representing different countries from all over the world in Manila for Miss Global 2015. The competition was 14 days of public appearances, choreography and show rehearsals, community outreach, photoshoots, and more.
The contestants of Miss Global 2015 had a film crew shooting all 14 days of the competition, documenting the moments leading up to coronation and the dedication it takes.
“My favourite part of the competition was being in front of the camera for interviews,” says Eden. “People described me as a natural, it is not something I had a lot of experience with directly, so I’m excited that I had the opportunity at Miss Global to discover a talent I didn’t know I have.”
However, in the midst of all the fun, from day one landing in Manila she felt under-the-weather. On day five she finally made her way to the emergency room to find out she had a soaring fever and a bacterial strep infection which developed into a soft tissue infection. She described the hospital staff as amazing, the service was quick and they knew exactly what was wrong with her. But the hospital visit was more than just aiding her illness, it was eye opening.
“Understanding that some people in the world have to choose between groceries and getting medical attention was overwhelming as a Canadian. Seeing a cash register in a hospital is a foreign concept to me,” explains Eden. “Realizing that some people have to choose to get the health services they need based on additional costs and not the best course of action for their health is one of the most eye opening parts of this experience. I will take the longer ER wait times here in Canada any day if it means a child gets the medical treatment they need that isn’t based on the quantity of health coverage their parents have.”
In true performer style, she said the show must go on mentality and managed to attend all aspects of the competition, only missing the preliminary event due to her illness and hospitalization. She says that was an emotional day, but health is the most important factor in our lives and no crown can replace that.
Through everything, and on top of representing her country as Miss Global Canada 2015, she was rewarded for her work for the Senhoa Foundation Charity. Eden was awarded the aforementioned the Miss Goodwill title, one of seven special titles awarded to participants. The winner of Miss Global 2015 was Jessica Peart – Miss Australia.
“Jessica was my best friend throughout the competition and I knew from the moment I met her she had what it took to take home the crown,” says Eden. “She was articulate, poised, kind hearted and had put a lot of time and effort into her preparation for the competition.”
Jessica Peart, Miss Global 2015, will have an amazing year full of opportunity including $20,000 worth of prizes and a modeling contract. She will travel the world, speak to communities through outreach and partake in public appearances. Jessica was the person who convinced Eden that she should go to the hospital when she was sick and that her health is more important than any competition. She also helped Eden in dealing with the emotional roller-coaster of missing the preliminary competition.
“I couldn’t have imagined the crown going to anyone else and I truly made a life long friend at during my two-weeks in Manila,” says Eden.
While traveling through Manila, Eden and the Miss Global 2015 contestant were witness to a typhoon and an earthquake. Though these natural disasters were scary to be a part of as visitors, they brought to light another issue for Eden as she visited an orphanage and befriended a child. One little boy at the orphanage told her that she had lost his mother, father, sister and brother in a storm, like the typhoon Manila was victim to while she was visiting.
“It is a hard realization that these natural disasters have devastating impacts on people living in poverty. Something as simple as a storm here can be life threatening to those living in poor conditions across the globe,” says Eden.
Proving Eden’s story isn’t only of gowns and runways, it is of hard-work, dedication and self-actualization.
“My advice for anyone chasing a dream, no matter what that maybe, is to keep your vision expansive. You can only be as great as you can imagine yourself to be,” says Eden.
Whoever among us could ever imagine the power of a beauty pageant to change a life?
Photos: Eden Boutilier winning Miss Goodwill. Left to right: Rhodo Nguyen from the Senhoa Foundation, Eden Boutilier – Miss Goodwill 2015, Miss Global Canada 2015, Emily Kiss – Miss Global 2013, Miss Global Canada 2013.
Eden Boutilier in a photoshoot for international costume
Eden Boutilier and Miss Global 2015, Miss Australia - Jessica Peart. Eden’s bestfriend