Francesca Hung is an actress and model from Sydney who has given a new face to Miss Australia after being chosen to represent the country in the next Miss Universe pageant.
For the first time in history, Miss Australia-Universe is not blonde-haired and blue-eyed beauty, and the 24-year-old Chinese Australian beauty queen was the first to recognize that her win broke the mold in some ways.
“I think internationally everybody has an idea of what Miss Australia should look like,” Hung was quoted by SBS News as saying. “And I think it will be a little bit of a shock to everyone when a blonde hair, blue-eyed girl doesn’t walk out.”
“I guess looking at your past winners — Jesinta Franklin, Rachael Finch, and Jennifer Hawkins — I used to think that was the typical Australian girl that everyone wanted to be and look.”
Hung, whose father is Chinese and whose mother is Irish/Australian, completed an undergraduate degree in arts and sociology earlier this year and is now studying a master’s in publishing at the University of Sydney.
Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, Hung has earlier talked about her struggles with her identity when she was younger.
“I felt like, sort of different, a little bit embarrassed by my cultural heritage growing up,” she revealed.
“And now it’s something that I embrace and I’m so happy to be different. I want to really inspire and be a role model for any multicultural kid growing up.”
Hung has recently made headlines for speaking out to raise awareness about mental health issues amongst young people.
Speaking with the Real Talk podcast, Hung revealed her own past battles with depression in her youth when she struggled with the pressure to impress her parents.
“I hated myself so much and I thought I was so worthless, and I would look at myself in the mirror and think ‘ugh you’re disgusting, what are you doing with yourself?’” she said.
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#realtalk It’s safe to say that when I woke up this morning and realised that my story about my battles with mental health went public through my podcast with @heartonmysleeve I went through a roller coaster of emotions. I have had some tears, anxiety but also a sense of relief and joy. I have been working on this podcast for a couple of months now, yet nothing can prepare you for when it actually becomes real and public. This has always been the scariest thing for me… to have my battles made public, however it’s also made me remember why I did this in the first place. I wanted to share my story so people could see that they are not alone, and even if this reaches and helps just one person then I’ve done my job. 1 in 5 Australians suffer from mental health issues every year, and it is the second biggest killer of young people, so I know most people reading this has been affected in some way or another by this issue. I know that when I was feeling most alone and vulnerable I looked to other people who had shared their experiences to understand that I wasn’t alone, and that it was okay not to be okay. I hope that my story can shed a little light onto why I am the way I am or what has made me the person I am today and perhaps help someone else along the way. Thank you to @heartonmysleeve and @mitch.wallis for helping me express my story and in turn helping me to heal even a little bit more. Also thank you to my family and friends who have supported me through this and encouraged me to be the best version of myself. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you all. If you would like to listen to the podcast it is available on iTunes and Spotify under REAL talk. Link is on my bio. X Love Francesca
She admitted to thinking she was was unattractive due to her Chinese heritage.
“Initially (my negative self-talk) was about my physical appearance; I thought I was unattractive and ugly to look at, and it stemmed from how I was always so conscious that I was half Chinese.”
“That was completely ingrained in me, and I was so self-conscious that when I would look in the mirror I would see this disgusting blob. I was overweight, and I would sabotage my eating so I would fit a certain look; I hated the way I looked… I always felt like I was my own worst nightmare.”
In a separate interview with News.com.au, Hung explained that her heritage once made her feel like the odd one out and accepting it was a struggle she faced while growing up.
“I hope this is an opportunity to show people if you look or feel different, you are a true representation of the Australian culture. What set me apart was my cultural background, and a bit different for [the] Miss Universe competition.”
Hung is set to bring her renewed confidence and newfound positive outlook to the Miss Universe 2018 pageant in Bangkok, Thailand on Dec. 17.
Featured image via Instagram / francesca.hung