Due to the Corona pandemic only 3 of the 6 grand slam titles will be have the year 2020 added to their history.
Miss Earth crowned Miss USA to be their 2020 queen during an online pageant and Miss Grand International also crowned Miss USA at the first physical final of 2020 just a few weeks ago. At both pageants the Netherlands were represented by two absolutely great queens: Tessa Leconge and Suzan Lips. The last one had to be in quarantine for two whole weeks before she and the other finalists could start the international pageant in Bangkok, Thailand.
And then there is Miss Universe. On may 16th we will witness the crowning of Miss Universe 2020 and if everything is as they are predicting, in december the 2021 Miss Universe will be crowned.
Miss Nederland 2020, Denise Speelman will represent our beautiful country at the upcoming Miss Universe in Miami and we are sure she will, like the other two dutch 2020 candidates, make a splashing impression!
We asked Denise 10 questions…
Who is Denise Speelman?
Hi! I’m Miss Nederland 2020 and I advocate for body positivity, to be your unique self and with my knowledge of fashion and styling, I dress people with all different sizes and shapes in their own beautiful way. I developed myself from a very insecure girl back in the days, now into a strong and confident woman. I grew up at a fun fair family, where I was born and raised to be an independent and hard working woman. I’ve walked my own path and run a fashion & personal styling business in Amsterdam, this all made me so confident, but there was a time that was a little different. After experiencing an eating disorder, it took me a while to discover what a normal healthy lifestyle was, find balance and especially love myself again. I now can say that I really love myself, can give love and be an inspiration to others!
When and why did you enter the world of beauty pageants? (Welke pageants heb je gedaan?)
I entered the world of beauty pageants in September 2014, I participated in the Miss North Netherlands competition. I got crowned as Miss North Netherlands and for me this was the first step, I wanted more!
Your national pageant was not a usual one, due to the corona pandemic. can you tell us how the Miss Nederland organization made it an unforgettable pageant anyway?
Despite the pandemic of COVID-19 I had an unforgettable year as Miss Netherlands 2020. It all started with the casting, and the road to the finals with all of the other contestants. Despite the pandemic the organization made it unforgettable for every girl. They support everyone and want to show that you can be who you want to be and achieve your goals. They really stand for women empowerment & sisterhood. We had a trip to Austria with safe protocols, recording days for the television show, got to know all of the partners we are working with and training days for the big final show! Through these moments we will have great memories and friendship for life!
After I got crowned, I got the chance to share my story, use my voice and be an inspiration and helping hand to people. It’s always so easy to look at things you can’t do, but it’s much easier and more fun to look at things you can! That’s what I did from the very first moment together with the organization, together we make a great dream team. I had the coolest photoshoots and interviews in magazines, places I could share my story and for me that’s the most important thing. I even got to start volunteering at Stichting Leontienhuis, where I’m helping people who are struggling with eating disorders. I started my own campaign on social media where I share pictures with body quotes who are all related to eating disorder thoughts and are a motivation to recover. That’s is something you can build on after this year and develop yourself further in to!
How do you combine your daily work with the duties of Miss Nederland?
For my daily job, I’m a fashion & personal stylist. I can combine this job very good with the duties of Miss Nederland, because the organization supports me in what I’m advocating for, so this comes all together. I’m not only Denise Miss Nederland, but also stylist Miss Nederland.
I want to show people that everyone is good enough in their own way, no matter what size or shape you are, everyone can be dressed nicely in their own beautiful way!
Your platform is dedicated to eating disorders. Why is that and how will you use your title for this cause?
The reason I advocate for eating disorders is because I experienced one myself. Six years ago I’ve been through the whole process, having underweight, heartbeats, always cold hands & feet, not menstruate for over a year, got therapy and had to find my own balance again.
The moment I realized that I was totally myself and healthy again, I wanted to use my experience in this and help other people who are struggling with this right now. I use my title by opening the conversation for people to talk about it and want them to know that they always can reach up to me, to talk and not be ashamed. I want to help people! Even I’m recovered right now, I know and especially understand the thoughts people who are having an eating disorder right now.. It’s a long and hard process and sometimes you can’t do things alone. That’s why I also started volunteering at Stichting Leontienhuis. Together we are stronger!
On social media you said that after recovering from an eating disorder, you do not have to eat everything you like in one day. But what would you like the other contestants of Miss Universe to taste that’s typical dutch and why?
I really want them to try and taste ‘’oliebollen’’! My family makes them and they have their own family recipe, it’s part of their fun fair company. Oliebollen are made of dough and you got the naturel Oliebollen or ‘’Krentenbollen’’ with raisins in it. It all tastes sooo good, especially with powdered sugar on it. You even got them with chocolate.. I’m getting hungry right now.. haha!
What do you expect from the international pageant during this pandemic and the other participants?
Well it’s hard to say what to expect because we are all in such an insecure period with everything that you don’t know what’s coming. But what I do know and where I have a really sure feeling about, is that it’s going to be the greatest adventure I will ever experience! I think the group of power woman who participate in this competition will be so connected to each other because we are all in the same situation. We have to support and be there for each other, maybe I will make friendships and sisterhood for life!
Social media can be a beautiful medium, but not everybody uses this medium for the good. What message do you have for those who misuse social media?
What I want to say to people who misuse social media: just don’t do it! Social media has to be fun, supportive, full of love, laughter and motivational. You can change someone’s mood or even their life if you are commenting something negative, at the other side you can change someone’s life if you’re commenting something positive, so why don’t we do that more?
I also want to say: show us your real life! Why are you using social media if you’re not showing the real you? Fake lives, fake bodies.. I just want to see you! I think if this would change, we could all feel more connected to each other and be nicer. We all have to respect each other in the way we are!
What can your contribution be to make beauty pageants big in the Netherlands?
I think I have showed in the past year as Miss Nederland, as a pageant queen you can be totally yourself, have a voice and do something with your story. There are no certain ‘’beauty standards’’ or the ‘’perfect image’’ where you have to fit in.. We all have our own image and that is what makes you unique! I want to make the difference, that a pageant queen is not only the girl who can smile beautiful on pictures, but also is the girl you can have real conversations with and who works hard.
What about Denise in 10 years?
In about 10 years I still want to succeed in my job as a fashion & personal stylist, but also hope to help a lot of people to recover from eating disorders. I now start volunteering at Stichting Leontienhuis, a great collaboration where I feel so good about. Next to that, I also have a lot of plans with my company to expand it even more, but that’s it for now and I will leave it as a surprise.. a reason to stay following me 😉
We would like to thank Denise and the Miss Nederland organization for taking the time in their busy schedules to answer our 10 questions. And we want to wish all the best of luck in Miami and…. Stay Safe!!
glam shot with crown: William Rutten
green dress: Hylke Greidanus