Since Ashellica Fahie was crowned Miss Universe BVI in August, she has been working in the Virgin Islands to promote her platform of destigmatising mental illness.
On Saturday, she will take her message to the world stage when she competes against beauty queens from more than 90 countries in the Miss Universe 2023 pageant in El Salvador.
Ms. Fahie, who travelled to El Salvador on Nov. 3, has been taking part in various preliminary events in recent days.
They include a cocktail meet and greet, exploring El Salvador with fellow contestants, and photoshoots. She has also been attending rehearsals as the big night approaches.
Ms. Fahie is not a newcomer to pageantry. As a student, she placed first runner-up in Miss Fifth Form and then went on to win Miss Teen BVI. This led to her participation in two regional pageants before placing second runner-up in Miss BVI in 2015.
In a recent interview with the Beacon, Ms. Fahie attributed her success to her Christian faith.
“Me winning this pageant was all God,” she said.
She added that her decision to participate in Miss Universe BVI came after much prayer and consideration, since she had previously considered herself retired from the pageant scene.
“Pageantry has definitely helped mould me into the young woman I am today in terms of my confidence, my public speaking skills, because for me it was never about a competition,” she said. “It was always an experience for me. What can I learn this time around? Who can I touch and impact? Who can touch and impact me?”
Mental illness platform
In her role as Miss Universe BVI, she hopes to continue to advocate for the destigmatisation of mental illness in the Virgin Islands.
“I think for the BVI, [discussing mental illness is] very much still taboo. We tend to put on such an amazing façade,” she said, adding, “Physical strength isn’t enough anymore.”
Ms. Fahie said she hopes to partner with local clinics to spread mental healthcare resources and in-formation throughout the territory.