Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 Shweta Sekhon looks back upon her journey as a beauty queen

26 Jun 2020 | Angelique Reyes

Shweta Sekhon is a Malaysian model and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 and represented Malaysia at Miss Universe 2019 on 8th December 2019 at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. She was appreciated for her performance and was placed at Top 3 for the title of Best in National Costume but unfortunately didn’t win. 

Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Shweta was raised by a single mother; a former Malaysia Airlines stewardess. She completed her form six studies at SMK Cochrane, Kuala Lumpur. Shweta always dreamt of being a beauty pageant queen and to focus on the title she decided to take a break from pursuing her tertiary education. The diva who grew up watching beauty pageants always inspired and looked up to the queens and their empowering messages. 


Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 Shweta Sekhon looks back upon her journey as a beauty queen


After winning the title of Miss Universe Malaysia 2019, Shweta plans to champion the topic self-confidence during her reign and to highlight women empowerment. “There’s a lot of women out there who aren’t very confident about themselves. So, I want to be an icon to tell them to just embrace yourself. Be confident of who you are.”

Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 wasn’t the first beauty pageant she participated as previously she was scouted online for the title for Miss World Malaysia 2016 and was the adjudged as the second runner-up at the event finale. She was elevated to first runner-up position when Ranmeet Jassal gave up her first runner-up title. Six months later, Miss World Malaysia 2016 Tatiana Kumar was stripped of title due to "breach of conduct" and Shweta was assumed to the new queen but didn’t compete at the Miss World pageant. Shweta is the first in the history of beauty pageants in Malaysia to receive an unprecedented double promotion.


Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 Shweta Sekhon looks back upon her journey as a beauty queen


During her stint at Miss Universe 2019, Shweta launched a campaign #YourBodyYourSay as her Miss Universe Malaysia advocacy campaign in August 2019. She hopes to build a much more positive society who is not fearful of accepting their true and real, authentic self. As part of the campaign, she conducted sharing sessions at universities such as HELP University and MAHSA University. The session at MAHSA University was featured in webisode, "Love, Shweta" that was released in October 2019.

I named it ‘Your Body, Your Say’, but it’s also about mental strength and taking care of yourself and feeling confident. Everyone should be able to feel beautiful, regardless of what the scale says,” she enlightens on her advocacy. Her personal struggles with body weight when she was younger, as well as other physical insecurities even until today, are precisely why she felt so strongly about this cause.

Shweta has mentioned that her mother and sister are her biggest inspiration in the world, “My sister is my book of wisdom and manager. She has been supportive of my journey from day one and I am living a part of her dreams. My mum is my backbone. Even though she brought both of us up single-handedly following family issues with my dad, we managed to live life to the fullest. We are a normal family with strong cultural traditions. We had fun growing up, always making sure to get together for dinner and giving each other support for whatever endeavors no matter how crazy they sounded.

In one of her interviews; asking about how did she develop her interest for beauty pageants, the diva explained that pageantry has always been her interest since she was a child. She remembered that her family always use to say that how much they wished that someone from their side would represent the country at Miss Universe stage and she use to see herself on stage. “Growing up, learning, and understanding the flow of pageantry just got me realizing that it has always been my calling. I am so grateful to God that I am able to find my pathway in this industry and that is why I was standing as the Miss Universe Malaysia of 2019,” she shared.


Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 Shweta Sekhon looks back upon her journey as a beauty queen


The diva is very hard working, intelligent, and determined for anything she puts her heart in. She describes her stint at Miss Universe 2019 as ‘craziliciously fun’! “The experience there is just a whole new level. It took me some time to digest the fact that I was at one of the world’s most prestigious events! Everything was just on-the-going as for the first time ever; the pageant week was only held for 10 to 11 days." The diva mentioned that she could feel the competition growing every day and getting intense but she was determined to give her best shot when on stage and she did. Shweta explains that she was excited to have been able to witness one Queen being crowned at least for once in our lifetime, being part of the show ourselves. 

For her preparation, Shweta explained that being a beauty queen is basically being every essence of a woman. She explains her self has outgoing extrovert and bold and likes to challenge herself for better outcomes. “People think pageantry is the same as modelling but these two are very different. Modelling is basically you walking down the ramp but pageantry is about using all your senses. I like how Miss Universe allowed me to learn everything by myself. They don’t spoon feed me; they guide me and that’s a big difference there. It taught me the essence of being a woman in every way,” Shweta explained. 

Shweta was popularized because of her National Costume. Shweta donned the unforgettable “A Peranakan Indulgence” costume designed by Malaysian couturier Carven Ong. The dress was adapted from Malacca’s Baba Nyonya heritage, caught everyone’s attention with its inclusion of various local delicacies such as onde-onde, kuih koci, ang ku (red tortoise kueh), kuih talam, kuih lapis, sago cake and also the Chinese red egg, all neatly arranged on four ‘tables’ attached to the dress. When asked about her first impression of her National Costume, she said she was happy and amazed. “This was definitely one of the biggest national costumes ever made for Malaysia. I have always wanted to wear something big and food related as I am a foodie myself," she explained. 


Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 Shweta Sekhon looks back upon her journey as a beauty queen


Shweta also recalls the goof up that happened with her during the competition where she was announced as the winner of the National Costume but after few hours the organizers announced that Miss Universe Philippines 2019 Gazini Ganados was the right winner. “I still remember how excited I felt! For me, it was as if I won the Miss Universe crown itself because that national costume was worth the weight. I was still in shock as this win means a great beginning for Malaysia in the history of Miss Universe. But a hiccup happened! Four hours later, a tweet was released by Miss Universe where apparently Philippines was announced as the winner of the Best National Costume. I was surprised as I got congratulated by Paula, the National Director of Miss Universe herself, right after the show ended”, she explained. 

Shweta may have not won the title but she is very grateful for her journey and everyone who has supported her throughout. She explained that she is grateful that everyone around her including the people on her social media were positive, motivating, and supportive towards her and never tried to state any negative about the incident. The diva mentioned that with her journey at Miss Universe 2019, she has learned to stay positive in whatever challenge she faces in future as it tends to uplift her for her dream. 

My advice to the next Miss Malaysia Universe: just be yourself! As cliché as this sounds, be yourself but the best version of it! Have role models but don’t be a copy of another person. Enjoy this journey as not every girl is blessed to represent Malaysia at Miss Universe. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and opportunity. Don’t take this crown, sash, and title as a burden. It’s a responsibility! Go all out and let’s do this for Malaysia!”. Shweta Sekhon may not have won the title of Miss Universe 2019 but she surely won many hearts for her positive and strong attitude during the competition. For someone like her who has struggled with body issues to represent her country at Miss Universe stage is commendable and she believes that there are many girls who dream about being stage but are let down and with her story, she wants to empower them and encourage them to take that step for oneself.