Channel 4’s new 3 part series Beauty Queen Or Bust kicked off last night showing the journey of entrants to Miss Black Country’s beauty pageant. I was expecting Big Fat Gypsy dresses and pompous bitchy sneers, but the documentary gave a whole different insight into the beauty pageant struggle with a rough Diamond stealing the show.
From the preview, it was clear to see that Beauty Queen Or Bust was going to be… different. Focussing on three girls’ (Natalie, Diamond and Sammy Jo) journey to the regional heat in Wolverhampton, where if they won the Miss Black Country heat, they could then enter for Miss Great Britain.
First there was mobile hairdresser Natalie (above), 22, from Dudley, a pretty red head who fit the Beauty Queen image. She wasn’t boastful or pompous, but she came across as a preened, happy and bubbly girl into all things beautiful.
Next up was unemployed Sammy Jo (above), 18, who despite gaining a place in the final, had to pull out as she couldn’t afford the £50 fee, a dress or “...everything else that goes with it”.
Finally, was Walsall’s ruff Diamond (above), 18, unemployed and about to move into her first home after leaving a homeless hostel. A cute mixed raced, pixie faced girl wearing the wrong shade of make-up, cheap blonde hair extensions and heavy eyebrows. It was easy for viewers to either sympathise with her back story (her mother spent time in prison for drugs) or loathe her brashness (drunken argument outside a nightclub).
Life has obviously been rough for Diamond. She lost a close friend who was stabbed (and helped raise £500 for his funeral), she was excluded from school at 15, she lacked self confidence and was in the midst of benefit poverty. She had hopes of entering the beauty world to escape the crack houses littered on the Pleck estate (just around the corner from where I was raised) where she grew up and show the people there that they could “make something more with their lives”. During the heats to get to Wolverhampton, her discomfort around her fellow contestants was quite sombre. Their lives and outlook was clearly different to hers. It was nice to see them rooting for Diamond and egging her on when she wanted to give up on the physical tasks, not something that would be seen in bigger and glitzier pageants.
With her mates beside her, Diamond was bolshy and ready to take on the world. She even told the camera’s that she could get “really nasty” if anyone upset her mates. During a night out with her pals, Diamond’s ‘nasty’ side came out as she hailed a torrent of abuse towards an adversary outside a nightclub. “You’re a twerk and your belly twerks…” she ranted, ready for a fight, the night before facing judges on a pageant heat.
Sadly none of the girls (Sammy Jo, obviously) made a place in the Miss Black Country heat. Natalie is concentrating on making a success out of her mobile hairdressing career before entering again, whilst Diamond entered a Miss Birmingham contest, and came fifth. There’s been a lot of backlash, both from the public and the media showing negativity towards Diamond. She is a ruffneck, but you can’t knock her for wanting something more glamorous in life. I’m not saying she’s going to be the next Naomi Campbell, but given some proper beauty guidance, her hunger and hope, this rough diamond could have the potential to be a precious stone.
Next week Beauty Queen Or Bust goes to Hull. I think I’ll be tuning in.