Kate Webster recalls reactions to her entering not once but twice into the Sydney Royal Showgirl competition.
"I used to talk to a lot of my friends and when I first told them that 'I applied for Miss Showgirl', let alone applied for a second time, they almost 'scoff' at you," she recalls.
"'Oh showgirl'? 'Like that's girls that dance around in dresses at the show and they don't get down and get dirty on the farm.'"
But now the 60-year-old competition will undergo a name change after being rebranded The Sydney Royal Young Woman of the Year for 2022.
And Miss Webster, the Wagga showgirl who finished second-runner up overall in 2021, hopes the change will break the stigma that surrounds the competition and increase participation rates amongst young women throughout communities.
"I literally live on a farm and a lot of the girls you come across are true country girls who have a passion for agriculture and literally aren't afraid to get filthy, get out there and give everything a go," Miss Webster said.
"Hopefully this name change will break that stigma and very much steer it [the competition] away from those sort of posh ideologies.
"It is an awesome way to get out in the community, getting to know people. Getting to meet other organisations and to make networks for yourself."
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Miss Webster said she would encourage all young women to throw their hat in the ring.
"I gained so much confidence, if you compared me from the girl I was before I competed to now, it is insane.
"I don't think I even realised how much I would change throughout the journey... It opens so many doors to you and is an incredible competition through and through."
2017 Wagga Miss Showgirl Emma Gorman, now a doctor, also supported the name change, and like Miss Webster, said competing was an invaluable experience.
Dr Gorman had relocated to Wagga from Scone when she competed in the competition.
"I think it [the name change] probably for today's world, if you haven't grown up in the context of agricultural shows and knowing what being a showgirl means, it potentially encourages people from a wider scope to apply, as it makes it more understandable to those people on what the Showgirl movement is about," Dr Gorman said.
"It was huge [winning], I took out Miss Showgirl for Wagga which was fantastic and I felt particularly privileged having not grown up in the Riverina.
"It really made me feel part of the community and I was lucky enough to go onto the zone finals and then to Sydney Royal and I was runner-up for that year.
"And it was an absolutely fantastic opportunity, you get to have experiences you otherwise don't have access to."
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