Beauty queen in the making

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Amber Fording is no stranger to performing. She sings, plays piano and cheerleads. But in September she’ll step in to the spotlight of a new type of performance-a beauty pageant.

American-born Fording, 21, is currently preparing to compete in the regional round of the Miss Belgium pageant on September 29. The competition will be her first beauty pageant. Although Fording was born and raised in America, her mother was born in Belgium so she is considered a citizen of the country and is eligible to compete.

Fording is representing the Brabant Wallon region of Belgium with 19 other competitors. In September, the 20 will compete and seven will be crowned. From that seven, up to three girls could be given the chance to go to the final national competition, which takes place in February.

Although the main event isn’t until September, Fording has been preparing for the pageant since she qualified in May.  She has done press, photo shoots, learned how to walk properly, hit the gym for the all important bathing suit portion of the pageant and started to learn Dutch.

During the pageant contestants are required to answer a question in French and Dutch. The French question will be no problem for Fording because she is fluent in the language, but the Dutch is something she is working on.

Fording says she learns on several free websites, talks to people and watches Dutch television. She understands most of the language, but still has trouble formulating phrases.

Fording may have a few challenges to overcome as a pageant newcomer, but she says being from America has not been one of them. “We have a really cool group of girls in our province so everyone gets along really well”. The other contestants were curious at first, but were welcoming and friendly.

Fording even sees being an international contestant as a privilege. “It’s a cool pageant and it’s cool to be able to represent the international community, which is pretty important in Belgium”.

If Fording makes it far in the competition and ends up being crowned Miss Belgium 2013, she will spend the next year as an ambassador for Belgium. She will attend numerous meet and greets and represent Belgium in Miss Universe and Miss World.

She says a lot of past winners have gone on to work in the media or take up modeling, but Fording has other plans.

She has enjoyed her time as a competitor so far, but has plans to work in politics or diplomacy after she earns her international affairs degree from Vesalius College. “The pageant is a really cool experience because you get to meet so many people and do so many things that normally, in the realm of real life, you wouldn’t get to do,” she says. “It’s not a career path, but it’s something I want to do 100% and to the fullest.”

 

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