By Marcus Uhe
Clyde North will have a representative at this year’s Mrs Galaxy Australia contest with Sonia Gupta selected as Mrs Clyde North Galaxy 2022.
The early childhood educator is aiming to use the contest and the platform provided to raise awareness of mental health issues, and encourage people to have those conversations and seek help if they require it.
Ms Gupta battled mental health issues upon her arrival in Australia from India in 2013 and wants to erase any stigma associated with asking for assistance.
“When I came to Australia it was very overwhelming for me,” Ms Gupta said. “I didn’t know anyone here besides my husband, and it was very overwhelming and I started getting depressed and anxious.
“In middle-class families, parents still don’t take their children to a psychiatrist or psychologist because they still feel ashamed, they still think about other family members and other issues in society.
“I want to stop them worrying about other family members and society and I want them to start thinking about their children, their family.”
While the stigma around mental health is no longer as prevalent as it once was in Australia, Ms Gupta, who hails from Jalandhar in the Northern Indian state of Punjab, said that her home community has some work to do to match Australia’s level of acceptance.
“Things are getting better, but in small cities and middle-class families, people still don’t care about that. They don’t want to discuss it or talk about that, even to their parents, because they fear what their parents will think, that they might be ashamed of them.
“This is still happening in small cities and low-middle class families.
“Since I came here, I’ve seen that people are very aware about speaking out.”
As the world recognises the contribution of females through the celebration of International Women’s Day on Tuesday 8 March, Ms Gupta wants women to challenge outdated stereotypes tied to her gender.
“In our culture, especially in lower-middle class families they still tell girls that when we are raised that we are meant to be focusing on cooking, cleaning, looking after children and your husband.
“I just want to let them know that we are capable of more than this and we are strong and we can do lots of things.
“If you are passionate to believe in yourself and your dreams, you can do anything.”
The 2022 Galaxy Australia Pageants National Final will be held in Sydney from Wednesday 6 April to Saturday 9 April, with the winner receiving the chance to represent Australia at the Galaxy International Pageant in Texas, USA.
Contestants in the pageant will be assessed on five criteria; an interview, their photogenic appeal, the swimwear competition, their evening gown and the fashion-wear contest.
Ms Gupta will use the interview component to open-up on her struggles in the hope that it will inspire others to do the same thing.
“I know it’s going to be hard, but I want to try this.
“I’m from a small city in India and especially in town areas they have very few psychologists and psychiatrists.
“I know it’s hard for me, but I want to make positive changes until my community takes this as normal, that people who have been through this aren’t mentally weak, they are strong, and this will make them stronger.
“If they think they are mentally weak because they are going through this, they are not. This will make them stronger.”
For more information on the contest, head to australiagalaxypageants.com/