In a country that loves beauty and fashion, it is but natural for people to look up to models and beauty queens. These women who wear crowns and take the spotlight on the catwalk make us think that there really is beauty beyond perfection, and we all hope we can be like them even for a day. But their lives aren’t just about the glits and glamour. These beauty queens and models carry on their shoulders the responsibility to be a good influence to their followers. They need to stay beautiful and fit, no matter how hectic their schedules are, because the society keeps an eye on them. So, how does it feel to be at the center of the country’s beauty and fashion scene? Youth Today’s Say Tola talks to By Sotheary – the woman who wore the first ever Miss Cambodia-Universe sash.
YT: Being Cambodia’s first ever representative to Miss Universe, do you feel any pressure to dress up and put on make-up every time you go out?
Ms Sotheary: Not at all. I understand that it’s part of the job but, to be honest, it’s a very minor concern. I put pressure on myself in terms of being a good role model especially to the youth. I realised that there are young people out there who might be looking up to me, so I have to be very thoughtful of my words and actions. I put a great deal of effort in making sure that I have a positive impact on them. I want to inspire and encourage them to do great things. I think that’s what being Cambodia’s first ever Miss Universe representative is all about.
YT: How do you define your fashion style? Do you prefer comfort over fashion?
Ms Sotheary: My fashion style is all about being “in trend” with myself. I wear clothes and accessories that represent my personality, character, mood – and even my culture, principles and beliefs. I also wear clothes that not only make me feel comfortable but also confident. To me, fashion is all about expressing yourself. It should represent who you are more than anything than else.
YT: If you’re not doing modeling works, what do you usually do and wear on ordinary days?
Ms Sotheary: When I’m not working, I spend quality time with my family and friends. I also partake in community projects or charity, when there’s an opportunity. For leisure, I listen to music, read books and play volleyball when I can. Also, on normal days, you would see me just wearing a t-shirt, a pair of jeans and sneakers. They’re so comfortable. I love it.
YT: What’s your skin care routine? What beauty products or routine can you advise to young Cambodians who also want to have clear and fresh-looking skin like yours?
Ms Sotheary: I think that the best skin care routine is one that is simple and natural. Me, I just make sure that my skin is clean every day. Also, when available, I would mix honey and lime or cut tomatoes and then use them as a face mask. I also try to scrub my skin with orange peels at least twice a week. Drinking lots of water is also good for the skin. All in all, however, my advice to young Cambodians is to eat healthy food and exercise regularly. Going to bed on time and having at least hours of sleep is also very important for growth and development.
YT: How do you take care of your body? Do you follow any dietary plan?
Ms Sotheary: In terms of my diet, I eat mostly vegetables and fish. But, to me, taking care of one’s body goes beyond just eating healthy food. You must also exercise to strengthen your body and get enough rest so that it can recover – especially after a stressful day.
YT: Do you go to the gym? What exercises do you usually do?
Ms Sotheary: Yes, definitely. I go to the gym four or five times a week. My trainer always has a wide variety of exercises for me to do, so I just follow his lead. Why is it important to keep yourself fit and healthy? Our bodies react to whatever we do with it.
If we take care of it, it rewards us by allowing us to do our daily activities with ease and joy. If we do harm to it, then we get sick or injured – limiting our functions or even our lifespan. That’s why being fit and healthy is extremely important.
YT: How important is it for models and beauty titlists like you?
Ms Sotheary: A lot of people don’t realise it, but this profession is actually very physically and mentally demanding. That’s why I exercise and live a healthy lifestyle so I can perform my duties effectively. Also, being the country’s first representative in the Miss Universe pageant, I want to send a message to the whole world that Cambodian women can be both beautiful and strong.
Because, in reality, that’s what we really are. And that’s why we survived and overcame all the challenges that we faced.
YT: Discrimination, body and skin-colour shaming is evident in Cambodia, What do you think of this mentality? How can you help address this problem?
Ms Sotheary: We need to understand that skin colour does not define who we are. It also doesn’t determine one’s social status. As for me, I would always campaign for equality, understanding and respect for all. I also encourage everyone to embrace and be comfortable with their uniqueness. I, for one, put great value in one’s heart. If you have a good heart, you will shine and stand above the crowd.
YT: How do you define beauty?
Ms Sotheary: For me, real beauty is having a positive influence on others. I find beauty in making others feel good about themselves, life and the world we live in. I also find beauty in encouraging and motivating people. Finally, I see beauty in sharing good and happy thoughts – which often results in putting a smile on people’s faces. That really makes my day.