Beauty with a purpose: Miss World Kenya to promote mental health

Sharon Obara

The reigning Miss World Kenya Sharon Obara.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Kenyan beauty made the top 20 list at the pageant that was held in Puerto Rico.
  • Sharon Obara says her experience in the contest was nothing short of magical.

In the minds of many, being a beauty queen is simple – all one needs is to be tall, slender and have a pretty face. But according to the reigning Miss World Kenya Sharon Obara, it takes way more than that.

In a black fitting dress and six-inch heels, Ms Obara struts inside Nation Centre with a confidence that cannot be ignored.

She has just arrived from Puerto Rico, where she had gone to take part in the Miss World contest. She achieved what many of her predecessors have not been able to achieve lately – making the top 20 list and winning the coveted “Beauty with a Purpose” category.

“A few weeks have passed, but I am still in awe of what I got to experience at that international stage. There, my name was not Sharon, but Kenya. The entire experience was quite magical. I had an opportunity to tour the country and network with queens from other countries,” Ms Obara said.

Ms Obara participated in different challenges, including, multimedia, sports, head to head, beauty with a purpose and talent categories. Each category won placed a contestant in the top 30 list.

“In the talent category, I was number 27, dancing is my talent so I danced. For the top model category, I was number 13, in sports I was number 32,” she said.

But the most important challenge at the Miss World competition is the Beauty with a Purpose, where the contestant picks a cause she would champion.

The cause Miss Obara chose is destigmatising mental healthcare in Kenya, and she won in that category. This means the Miss World team will be coming to Kenya later this year to help Miss Obara carry out initiatives around mental healthcare.

Beauty with a purpose: Miss World Kenya to promote mental health

“This is a big win for Kenya. It has been over 10 years since a contestant from Kenya was able to win in that category, and I am humbled that I had the opportunity to make my country proud,” she said.

Born in Dagoretti, Nairobi, Ms Obara never knew that one day her name would be in the news.

“My family has always been supportive, I joined Kenyatta University and completed my studies in 2021. I had pursued a bachelor’s degree in psychology. At university, I did some jobs in marketing that helped me build my confidence and communication skills,” she explained.

Growing up, her dream was to become a nurse, but an incident involving a classmate made her change her mind. The classmate had epilepsy and sometimes she would have fits at school.

“At that time, I did not know how to be there for her because I knew her condition was taking a toll on her emotionally. It just hit me then that whatever happens, I wanted to be able to help other people and myself,” she said.

“Mental health is constantly taking a dip and really affecting my generation simply because a lot of us are glamourising money and expensive trips as the ultimate goal in life. But this is not true, those we see sharing those pictures are mostly individuals who have worked and earned that status -- there was a process,” she said.

Getting into modelling did not happen by chance for her.

“I started in 2018, but I was a shy girl. After a few gigs I was able to start mustering confidence. I contested in a Miss Kajiado pageant, which I won, then I progressed to Mr and Mrs Birmingham Kenya and after that I went into commercial modelling, working with Samantha’s Bridal, among other brands,” Ms Obara said.

In 2019, she auditioned for the Miss World Kenya competitions. She did not make the cut. She tried again in 2021 and made it. 

“The good thing about this pageant is that you don’t have to be the best. You can be clueless about modelling and still be able to audition because after that you will be taken to a boot camp where the other elements of becoming a beauty queen are taught,” she said.

“Being crowned Miss World Kenya was something I never thought I could achieve. (It’s) a true testament that all dreams are valid,” she said.

When she is not Miss World Kenya or doing her work as a psychologist, Ms Obara enjoys spending time with her family and her 11 dogs. She also loves outdoor activities. She urges young girls not to be afraid to take up modelling as a serious profession. The thought that modelling should be a hobby belongs in the past, she said.