Letia’s Looking for Liberia’s Next Top Model

Letia Assaf Bates.jpg

Most modeling contests are all about the beauty, stance and structure of each model, but hardly once about the brains behind the vogue.

Discovering Liberia’s Next Top Model, a competition that will be held on Dec 7, 2013 at the Liberian Executive Pavilion, is going to be one of the first academic modeling contest of its time.

“This is not just about walking a runway, it’s all about intelligence, attitude and how to become a woman in life,” stated Letia Bates, one of the contest organizers and owner of a bridal boutique.

Hailing from various Liberian counties, the fifteen beauties will on the day of the competition be strutting for one of five crowns. 

“We’re looking for five winners. Winners will receive scholarships, laptops and phones. All 15 girls are all winners in our eyes, regardless of who wins,” stated MOD.L agent Alicia Johnson, who has partnered with Discovering Liberia’s Next Top Model organizers.

Discovering Liberia’s Next Top Model is an educative pageant, and the ladies contesting will be judged on integrity, culture exchange, intellect and beauty.

Each of the contestants is aggressively working towards mastering what they need to know in order for them to win, and that’s conduct.

“All the models are new and young, and we are getting them prepared. Everything we do here is going to be about education. We’re teaching them speech and how to work with the other models that are a part of this,” stated Alicia during one of their trainings.

Mrs. Bates, who is commonly known as Mrs. Tee, says she has had the dream of improving the lives of young girls in and around Liberia, and has returned home to Liberia to make those dreams come true by hosting such a pageant.

“This has been my dream coming up as child. I want to see what I did in my life improve somebody else’s life. I expect the girls that are discovered to know how to talk and carry themselves in a way a lady should be looked at,” she added.

But, as the saying goes, “beauty is only skin-deep”; Mrs. Tee couldn’t agree more.

“It’s not about thinking [that] you’re beautiful and just stop there; there’s no way that beauty will take you anywhere,” she says.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jeff Bates, who is co-organizing with his wife Letia, says’ that they have been empowering young girls in America and decided to come to Liberia and implement it here.

“Our goal is to empower young people and get them off the streets and get them focused on something. Our ultimate goal is to build a beauty and fashion academy that’s going to help them focus, develop integrity and look at their vision. It will be another way to get them to focus, and the girls who win this competition will be the first to enter into our academy,” Mr. Bates stated.

Such initiatives are cost-intensive and could use financial assistance. According to Mrs. Tee, who knows that such an initiative will grow over a period of time, her dream needs funding.

“I just want someone to come in and help these girls to be role-models for the kids that are coming up after them. We need someone to help us take these girls to another level and I can’t do it alone. So we are reaching out to the various ministries, especially The Ministry of Gender and Development,” Mrs. Tee pleaded.

Further more, Mr. Bates, who supports his wife’s dream, feels that it’s an outreach initiative and not all about finances per se.

“We need more exposure undertaking this type of project through media to help us get this message across. We encourage the media to help us expand our vision, and let parents know that their children now have something else they can get involved in,” he concluded.


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