Masala!

Miss Diva Universe Adline Castelino on her Miss Universe journey

a beacon of change in the world of beauty pageants

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The 22-year-old Miss Diva Universe 2020 is changing the game of beauty pageants by making women realise that it’s not always about winning

Born and raised in Kuwait, 22-year-old Adline Castelino never thought she’d ever walk on the Miss Universe on stage but fate had other plans for her. After being pushed by her college roommate to enter the beauty pagent, Adline realised that entering the competitio­n was what she wanted to do. Three years later, her hard work paid of as she won Miss Diva Universe 2020 and later, was the third runner up at Miss Universe 2020. But that was not the end of the road for Adline as she has many more ambitions for the future.

Speaking to Masala! in an exclusive interview, Adline revealed what goes on behind the scenes in pageant and how she trained during these testing pandemic times and the lockdown restrictio­ns imposed in various parts around the globe. Much like school and university going students, Adline too had to take her classes via Zoom. She explained her journey in a Zoom call, “We had all my classes on Zoom, but sometimes you miss that in-person interactio­n because there’s only so much - when it comes to ramp walking - that you can learn through virtual lessons. But thankfully, I had a great coach, who was quick to point out the slightest mistake I made - over Zoom.” But for 22-year-old, the pandemic helped her connect to other models who were participat­ing in the pageant.making to the final round was not a walk down the park for Adline. In fact, coming from conservati­ve family, her first task was to convince her parents about the bikini round that all models participat­ing in the pageant have to go through. She explained: “I’ve never even worn shorts in my life so I had to tell my parents, straight-up, that I would be required to sport a bikini as it was one of the requiremen­t. But in India, we look at the segment from a male’s perspectiv­e. Once you stop sexualisin­g it, it can be very liberating and make you feel good and confident about yourself. You are allowed to represent yourself in the way you feel is best for you.”

But that isn’t the most important part of these beauty pageants. For Adline, it’s the questions that you’re asked that can make or break things for you. She said: “There are a lot of walking rounds, and you only get that once chance to tell the entire world who you really are, what you stand for and how you think. That is something that comes from one’s inner core - from their heart.”

Adline also opened up about the misconcept­ion that people have about beauty pageants, terming them as sexist competitio­ns. She feels that only those who haven’t had the opportunit­y to learn about these competitio­ns think they’re sexist. “Beauty pageants are about a lot more than meets the eye. It helps women give an opportunit­y do more for their community. When I got crowned, I realised that it was not about the glamour because I was not wearing the crown or the gown at home. It was about what I could do in the world as a young woman. The Miss Diva organisati­on showed me that I can connect with people, get them together and make things work. Once people realise how it is for the greater good, they will be more appreciati­ve of it and the women participat­ing in it.”

Coming to the final round of Miss Universe 2020 and losing out on title could be a disappoint­ing experience for someone who’s worked hard for years. But Adlinne believes that it doesn’t need to get extremely competitiv­e. She shared: “I don’t feel that you get something by competing so intensely with other women. I told myself that I would put my everything into it and no matter who wins, I’m still going to stand up and clap for her exactly as I would clap myself.” She also added that what’s shown in Miss Congeniali­ty and other similar films is not how things are behind-the-scenes.

“Everybody’s very supportive. They’re almost like sisters because everyone’s gone through a lot. There’s already a lot of judgment and criticism when you walk into this place and they know it which is why everyone is so supportive of each other. You can you can be your own queen in your movie. You don’t need a crown and a sash to prove it.”

Adline also spoke about the conversati­ons that spring up after the crowning ceremony, especially when India is unable to make it to the finals. She said: “We think winning is everything. The girls before me or after me are going to have their own journeys and things are always different when it comes to beauty pageants. It’s like a probabilit­y. It’s horrible that women are made to feel any less about themselves when they return without winning because these pageants don’t show one’s worth. So it’s not about winning in every situation, but it’s about making the most of it.”

The 22-year-old shared her plans now, especially since most winners of beauty pageants later get involved with Bollywood. “It’s actually a misconcept­ion that all the beauty queens have gone to Bollywood. Of course they got involved in acting and that is bound to come up but that is not all that they’ve done. They have their own businesses too. Lara Dutta has her own cosmetic business but nobody talks about that.

It’s so disappoint­ing.”

But Adlinne does not want to limit herself. While she is very much involved in the entertainm­ent industry, she hopes to start an agribusine­ss. “I’m obviously going to build on modelling and acting but at the same time, I’ve also been immensely interested in agricultur­al business, because that’s a bigger challenge.”

From living in Kuwait to moving to Bombay all by herself at the age of 15, Adline has come a long way. With COVID-19 extending her reign as Miss Diva Universe 2020, she is now excited to pass on the baton to other girls and mentor them, while also carving out a new space for herself in the world.

“Once yoou stop sexualisin­g beauty pagents you will understand that it is liberating”

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