THE whole idea of beauty pageants may seem at odds with current thinking on how women value themselves but perhaps we’re too quick to dismiss them.

They may well have been only about looks in the distant past but today’s title-holders tend to be bright, articulate and with a strong sense of moral responsibility. Oh, and they happen to look good, too.

Judges are looking for active role models for the tenure of the relevant title. These are females to whom young women and girls can aspire and relate – not some Barbie figure who “just wants world peace”, as the stereotype goes.

This was driven home by the words of local woman Staceyanne Wright who was taking part in the Ms Galaxy UK competition last week. Winning – and just competing – was actually for her all about having the confidence to be there in the first place.

“I’ve suffered anxiety a lot in my life and it meant I missed out on a lot of opportunities when I was growing up,” she explained. “I lacked the confidence to do the things I wanted to do.”

Putting herself out there, and particularly just wearing a swimsuit, was a brave thing to do and I suspect she wasn’t the only female there pushing herself out of her comfort zone.

Challenging ourselves in life is never easy. We often like things to just go along as they always have without embracing change into new areas where we might fail. Failure, though, is as valuable to our development as success. In fact, we can learn more from failure.

What is crazy is that, even today, females still have to prove themselves in so many things. If they are good-looking, they may have to work even harder because they are subject to plenty of wrong assumptions about their capabilities.

There were some positive examples of females succeeding on their merits littered across International Women’s Day celebrations last week. And before anyone starts up about there being no International Men’s Day, I think that’s a very good idea, too - if some man would like to organise it.

In Bolton, there were several events linked to IWD and plenty of opportunities to appreciate talented females from across the borough and beyond. At one, at Bolton Lads and Girls Club, a women’s lunch provided the chance to hear the background and journey of successful local businesswomen.

They were very straightforward and honest about how they got ahead and their stories were very inspiring. They were not boastful and certainly not anti-men in any way. They simply explained how a combination of determination and circumstances opened up opportunities to move forward in business.

That, combined with hard work, had helped them to succeed but they took nothing for granted and paid tribute to all the people who had helped them.

As role models for young women – and young men – they were inspirational and also showed that challenging yourself and making your own opportunities is the genuine path to success.