She was bullied, avoided by her friends and homeschooled.
Now Bibyana Marquez is the Miss Teen Universe 2020, representing the US in the global competition and traveling to Dubai to talk about bringing the competition to the city.
“I was born in Texas and grew up in Texas. Where I live, virtually everyone is Mexican. Everyone speaks Spanish. And I live in a border town. So we get both cultures, the American culture and the Mexican culture, which is wonderful, ”says Marquez. “After this I will go to Brazil – I will crown the new Miss Teen Brazil.”
The life of the 17-year-old can be unimaginable for many people her age. But she has first-hand experience with the struggles of an average teenager. Sitting at Gulf News on a cloudy Thursday afternoon in Dubai, she wore her glittering crown and a winning roster on request, discussing self-esteem, insecurity and her face in Times Square. Plus, whether the competition really goes to the UAE next year …
How do you feel about the big win?
I am honestly so grateful for this great blessing. It changed my life completely in such a short time. There are so many things going on, so many projects, and I have to say that I am very grateful and excited.
How has your life changed?
Before that I would just go to school and then go to my dance class and back home. It was a very simple routine in my life. [This] has changed so much for me because a lot of girls at this age are in a regular school and doing what they have to do. And I’m here in Dubai.
What has been one of your most memorable moments so far?
I was in New York Fashion Week for the first time in February with a designer I started a clothing line with. It was such a last minute. He met me on my Instagram and sent a message that he really wants me to be his model in NYFW and open the runway for him … We did the whole campaign, we shot [all the] rock. And then he surprised me by posting my photo in Times Square on the screen. I could not believe it. In such a short time – I’m so grateful.
For people you may only know as Miss Teen Universe, tell us a little about who Bibyana is as a person …
Something that not many people know is that I like to design. I like to draw. I’m actually self-taught. For every competition I did, I designed my own evening dresses and then wore them the last night.
What was your trip to the countryside?
When I first started, I had no idea about competitions, and I had no idea about modeling. I was 16, so that was about a year ago. [The] someone who really inspired me is the owner of a dress shop in McKellen, where I live, who said, ‘You have to join my competition.’ I thought, ‘I’ve never shod before, I have no idea what I’m going to do. But I just give it my 100 percent and see what happens. ‘
What are the issues facing teens today?
I think what bullies are common among teens these days. I see it happening all the time in schools and almost everywhere. I went through [it] in school. It was something that made me really insecure at that point. After that, I started doing homeschooling. A while later I joined my first competition. Everything happens for a reason. Today I look at it and think, ‘No, that’s good. Because that experience did make me stronger. It made me who I am today. “And because I started homeschooling, I started competitions.
What are the kinds of things you were aiming for in school?
I had my close group of friends, and all of a sudden they stopped talking to me. They would be so mean to me all the time. There was a point at school where no one would talk to me. It was very, very sad for me because I just know I was in school, and so it’s your circle at that time. That’s the only thing you have. At the time, I would think, ‘Why don’t I have friends? I have no one to talk to. “But everything does happen for a reason.
How were you growing up? Were you introverted?
When I was in school, I used to be super, super, super quiet. I will never speak honestly. The bullying makes you a little insecure. But when I started homeschooling, my self-esteem was much higher. It was then that I started talking a little more and needed to be more confident. Actually, when I first met my makeup artist, I was still very, very quiet – I would not speak! And today he says to me, ‘Wow, now you talk so much!’ [laughs] So yes, that has really changed.
How did your family feel when you were crowned? What was their reaction during the whole process?
I think they got just as excited as I did. Because they were with me the whole trip. They know when I started, how I started. I remember when I first started, I never thought I could be Miss Teen Universe in just one year. So it’s a big deal for my family and my team, my makeup artist, my photographer, they are all so excited.
What do you foresee for your future? Can you see that your design follows?
I would like to be a designer. This is my main target. This is something I do from my heart. I just launched my clothing line [WGBM] with a designer [Willfredo Gerardo]. Many of the designs are mine; I sketched them and everything. I had so much fun drawing them and spending time on them. I will post it soon.
What would be your advice to other children trying to find their voice today?
No matter what, always believe in yourself. Because if you do not believe in yourself, things get so much harder. Before, when I [didn’t] really believe in myself, I was very insecure. I felt like I could accomplish nothing. But today, after my first competition, I proved to myself what I can do. So always believe in yourself, no matter what anyone else says to you.
How was it for you to use your social media as a platform?
My platform is actually Teen Evolution. And it’s about the collection of teens who went through bullying, who were there, because I was once there and I know how it feels. That’s why I created this platform to help them and to help them set goals. And especially to let them know that they are not alone. [It’s not yet launched] due to the virus, but we’re working on it. It’s almost there!
We heard that Miss Teen Universe is coming to Dubai here …
Oh my God, I’m so excited about it. It is being held here in Dubai for the very first time and it is being organized by Yugen PR, which is great. [Founder Josh M Yugen] is incredible in everything. He’s actually here now! He always supports us, and you know, he’s the team.
Do you feel that there is also the opportunity for Arab girls to be the next Miss Teen Universe?
Yes, for everyone. Any girl can be the Miss Teen Universes. I would encourage as many people as possible to join.
What would you say to people who have misconceptions about competitions? What is your perspective if you have been through it yourself?
Many people think that competitions make girls insecure about themselves because they have to be perfect somehow. But this is not true at all. According to my own experience, my first competition, it helped me a lot with my self-esteem, because that’s where I proved to myself what I was capable of. I did so many things I could never have imagined. I would be the first person to encourage girls to start competitions because it really helps you.
Were you able to make friends in that area?
Oh, yes! Very. In my first competition, I made some friends. To this day, I still talk to them. Last year, in an international competition, I made such a good friendship with Miss Mexico. And to this day we still talk and send messages to each other and greet each other and comment on each other’s messages. It’s so beautiful with competitions because you close friendships that last a lifetime.
What do you consider your responsibilities now as Miss Teen Universe?
Being Miss Teen Universe is a great blessing, but also a great responsibility, because you are an inspiration to many people around the world. It is honestly a privilege. I feel blessed. As we grow up, you always admire someone, you always look up to someone. It makes me very happy to be that person.
Source: Gulf News