By Christopher Tobutt
17-year-old Asaiah Thomas was crowned the 40th Miss Teen Cayman Islands beauty queen. She sat on her beautiful white throne, flanked by Kianna Ebanks, First Runner-Up, and Niya Mothen Second Runner-up. All three of the winners received wonderful prizes, including six-month free gym memberships, and much more too, with Miss Teen receiving a four-year scholarship from the Ministry of Education. The announcement came at the end of a nail-biting evening which had seen all nine contestants show their talents, and their poise, dignity, and the ability to answer like a queen when they were asked a difficult question.
That question was, “Seven in ten teens say anxiety and depression are major problems of their peers. Why do these issues seem to be impacting this generation more than any other generation?” Contestant 15-year old Niya Mothen answered, “My generation has had to overcome the covid-19 pandemic and during the pandemic. Leah Robinson, answered, “We do not have a platform to express ourselves as youth of the Cayman Islands I believe it is our duty and goal to do justice.” Destiny Dalley answered stating that “The younger generations have higher rates of anxiety and depression because the older generations have left their struggles amongst us such as the mass plastic pollution with the world, the alarming growth of climate change and the lack of land presence in the Cayman Islands for the youth”. Deshante McLaughlin-Richards answered, “We are told we are to be strong but the truth is we are human. 17-year old Asaiah Thomas, the new Miss Teen, answered, “I believe this impacts my generation more because teens are forced to be something that they are not,” Destiny Williams answered, “Teens suffer more in my generation because society and social media, and Kiana Ebanks, First Runner-up answered, “I believe that we compare ourselves to things we see on social media …we are always told how to look and how to act and I feel that this can greatly affect our mental health.” Lexi Gould answered, “I believe that anxiety and depression affects a lot of teens because of peer pressure, and Ariana Thomas said, “We befriend people we call friends and they peer pressure us into doing things that we aren’t really supposed to do.”
Earlier, Kiana Ebanks had shone in the talent competition and gone on to win Best Talent award, with a very funny monologue about the rising cost of living in Cayman, a performance that won her the Best Talent award. Dashante McLaughlin-Richards, 17, had explored her African heritage with an amazing dance, while Niya Mothen had charmed everyone when she played a beautiful Spanish song on her violin. Destiny Williams, 17, accompanied herself on the guitar as she sang, ‘Stand By Me,’ and got everyone clapping and singing to the chorus. Destiny Dalley,’s talent for the night was a poem titled, “The Conversation” which she wrote herself. Ariana Thomas had performed a dance.
The pageant had the theme “Kaleidoscope, Past, Present & Future,” and it certainly lived up to its name. During the evening there was a slide-show of the 40 previous Miss Teens, some of whom were sitting in the audience and many of whom had gone on to become very successful and influential Caymanians. The future of pageantry was shown with some of the youngest Cayman pageant participants, who came onstage with their moms and dads, while regally waving to everyone. The audience were also graced by special appearances from Miss World Cayman Islands 2021 Rashana Hydes, and Miss Cayman Islands Universe Mariah Tibbetts.
There was also plenty of culture, with dances from the Dream Chasers and the UCCI dancers, with a There was a Casual Wear section at the beginning, where each of the contestants wore a different, stylish-but-original outfit. When it came time for each of the nine contestants to appear in their beautiful formal evening gowns, they were each escorted onto the stage by a member of the Cayman Islands Scouts. Before the final announcement of the winner, lots of other awards were given out. Lexi Gould won Miss Personality and Miss Photogenic, Leah Robinson won the Academic Excellence Award, Niyah Mothen won ‘Most Improved,’ and Best Smile and Best in Gown was won by Asaiah Thomas the new Miss Teen. The People’s Choice Award was won by Lexi Gould.