Miss Universe Australia Scherri-Lee Biggs accused predecessor Jennifer Hawkins of too much plastic surgery
by Jonathon Moran From: The Sunday Mail (Qld) August 21, 2011 12:00AM
MISS Universe Australia Scherri-Lee Biggs has accused former winner Jennifer Hawkins of having too much plastic surgery.
Hawkins, one of Australia's highest-paid models, has repeatedly denied suggestions she has gone under the knife since she shot to fame by winning the beauty contest in 2004.
On the eve of her departure for the pageant in Brazil, Biggs, 22, accused Hawkins of going too far in her quest for perfection.
"There's a lot more to beauty before considering plastic surgery. Jen has gone that little bit too far," she said. "I'm not against it but I do believe in natural beauty. There is too far, though, there is too much."
Hawkins was last week forced to fend off speculation after setting tongues wagging at Myer's annual spring-summer collection showings with her puffy cheeks and waxy, wrinkle-free face.
While the 27-year-old was last week unavailable to comment on the rumours, Hawkins has previously put her appearance down to a diet and fitness regime.
"I just eat healthy and I exercise a lot," she has said previously.
"I think a lot of women get better with age - they're more confident within themselves and know who they are as a woman."
Biggs said there was increasing pressure on young women to go under the knife.
"You really need to consider why you're getting it done, whether it will better your life," she said.
For the international Miss Universe final next month, Biggs said she will use blonde hair extensions to give her a competitive edge.
Courtesy of The Sunday Mail
It’s somewhat ironic that on the day I’m to interview the new Miss Universe Australia, Scherri-Lee Biggs, debate is raging over a controversial child beauty pageant due to be held in Melbourne the next day.
Of course, Biggs has already made her views on the subject clear. During ‘question time’ in the final of the Australian competition in July, she was asked her opinion of child pageants (it makes a change from world peace). The 20-year-old replied that kids shouldn’t be forced to compete by pushy parents. “Children should be children,” she added firmly.
That answer – along with a winning smile and good looks, not to mention a killer sequinned frock split to the thigh – obviously pleased the judges, who handed her the title and, with it, the chance to emulate the success of Jennifer Hawkins at the global final in Brazil next month.
Competing in a beauty pageant couldn’t have been further from her mind when she was a child. Growing up on a farm in Ballito Bay, South Africa, the second of three daughters, Biggs’ early childhood was a healthy mix of caring for animals (the family had five dogs, six cats, a horse, ducks, two peacocks and a gaggle of geese) and outdoor endeavours such as quad biking, surfing and camping.
“I was so thrilled to win,” enthuses Biggs. “What started out as just a fun experience grew into something much more as I found out about the competition and what it stands for. Heading into the final, my heart was quite set on it, which I didn’t want to be the case because, if it hadn’t happened, I’d have been upset.”
“It was heaps of fun,” Biggs recalls. “I definitely have two sides: I’m girlie, I love fashion and studied ballet but, at the same time, I also have this really capable side. I love camping in the middle of nowhere, where there are no toilets.”
Biggs’ idyllic childhood in South Africa came to an end when she was eight. Alarmed by increasing levels of violent crime in their homeland, her parents decided to emigrate to Perth. “We were lucky enough not to have anything happen to us, but it was a bit close to home,” says Biggs. “My parents thought Australia presented a better opportunity for us.”
The family threw themselves into their new life. “I don’t remember it being a big deal,” says Biggs. “I missed my grandparents, but I adapt to new situations quickly and was happy to be in a new country and see what it had to offer.”
Now Melbourne-based, the model is chatting to me from the family home in Perth (she admits she’s lying on her childhood bed), where she’s enjoying a break. There’s no trace of her native accent, a result of her decision to try to fit in when she first arrived. “It wasn’t that I was ashamed of my accent,” she says. “But I tried to put on an Australian accent at first and then I naturally assumed it. Now I can’t even do a South African one.”
Although she considers herself “completely Australian”, she’s had her critics. After Biggs took out the national title, comments posted online claimed she shouldn’t have won because she wasn’t born here. “Yes, I copped it a bit from people who said I wasn’t Australian,” she sighs, “but how un-Australian are they for even suggesting that?”
Not so long ago, the local Miss Universe pageant was considered so passé, organisers scrapped the competition, sending a delegate chosen by a modelling agency, instead.
But in 2004, Hawkins – then a little-known cheerleader and part-time model – won the international Miss Universe tiara and became a star, not to mention a very rich woman thanks to endorsements and a multi-million-dollar contract with Myer.
A year later, the national pageant was back. Young women have been clamouring to follow in Hawkins’ footsteps ever since, seeing the event as their ticket to fame and fortune despite the stereotypes attached to beauty pageants.
But Biggs – who put a communications degree on hold to pursue modelling – says there’s more to the event than you might think. Although, yes, she does have to parade in a bikini.
“People criticise it for being a beauty pageant – I understand that because there’s a beauty component, but it’s a minor part; you can’t just be beautiful, you have to have the full package. You have to be socially aware and know what’s going on around you; you have to have wit and personality. I’m not saying this is me, of course, but it’s definitely what we’re working towards.”
As for that bikini? Well, Biggs reckons that’s what most Aussies wear every weekend anyway. “Rachael Finch [Miss Universe Australia 2009] put it well when she said that, as Australian women, we’re proud of our bodies, so showing them off isn’t a big deal. I agree, it’s about being proud of who we are. I’m not the skinniest person and I have issues with my body. But, ultimately, I’m proud to be happy and healthy and to present those values, rather than say, ‘Hey, look at me in a bikini.’”
Asked would she like to follow Hawkins’ lead, Biggs sighs, as if she’s already tired of the questions about her famous predecessor. “A five-million dollar Myer contract? Yes, please! Look, Jennifer has done very well for herself and if I do half as well as her, I’ll be very happy. She’s an inspirational young woman.”
So is it a case of ‘move over Jennifer, it’s time for Scherri-Lee’? “I don’t know about that,” she laughs. “Imagine me taking her place – I’d be hated. No, she’s a very smart businesswoman, but I want to do my own thing.”
Life for Biggs, a keen cook who keeps in shape with running and pilates, is now a whirlwind of preparations for her trip to the Miss Universe final in Brazil, during which she’ll celebrate her 21st birthday.
Her jet-setting will mean even less time with her boyfriend of one year, Melbourne-based Lachlan Smith. But the couple are used to having a long-distance relationship as, shortly after they met in Melbourne, Biggs temporarily moved back to Perth to compete in the preliminary events for the national title.
Was she worried the distance might kill off the romance? “Well, I didn’t put any pressure on him; I said I’d leave it up to him and if it wasn’t working, we’d leave it at that. But as time went on, the more we realised we wanted to stay together. The pros outweighed the cons.
“If the relationship is good and there’s a lot of trust, and if you’re both happy for each other to be doing their own things, it’s going to work. He’s been so supportive these past few weeks with everything being so crazy.”
Now the million-dollar question is, does she think she has what it takes to take out the top prize? Not to mention handle any bitchiness that might result from having almost 90 women furiously competing for that crown.
“I’ve heard there’s quite a bit of that,” she confides. “Jesinta Campbell [who represented Australia last year] supposedly had pins put in her dress, so I don’t know what to expect. If anything does happen, I’ll just take it in my stride and deal with it the best I can.
“I don’t know if I have better chances than anyone else. I just hope I can get across what I represent: a healthy Aussie girl who’s comfortable in her own skin. Win or lose, it will be a massive experience. I have a feeling it’s the beginning of a big chapter in my life.”
Life After The Pageant
We know about Jennifer Hawkins, but how have the other Miss Universe Australia winners fared since handing over their crowns?
Erin McNaught (2006)
The model and ex-Neighbours star now hosts the MTV Hits Weekly Hot30 Countdown. In 2009, she hit headlines after partially severing her finger in a motorbike accident.
Laura Dundovic (2008)
After making the final’s top 10, she hosted the TV show Dating in the Dark and became an ambassador for Hollywood Fashion Tape.
Rachael Finch (2009)
The global event’s third runner-up has competed on Celebrity MasterChef and Dancing With the Stars, hosted a travel show and is the face of Speedo.
Jesinta Campbell (2010)
Named second runner-up and Miss Congeniality at last year’s final, the 20-yearl-old is modelling and keen to move into TV.