Bonnie Johnstone of Abbotsford will compete for the title of Miss BC from June 30 to July 2.
After meeting the 2016 Mrs. BC winner, Tetyana Golota, Johnstone was inspired to take Golota’s advice and embrace her body and size for what it is. Johnstone entered the 2018 Miss BC contest so she could inspire women to overcome their shame, as she has done in her own life.
“I have defied many odds,” she said. “I have overcome addiction and am an abuse survivor. I want to help other people get through their shame.”
On paper, Johnstone had the perfect upbringing – a big, happy family living in an extravagant home. However, she endured sexual, physical and emotional abuse for most of her childhood and was often teased at school and called names.
Keeping secrets led to feeling ashamed, which morphed into body image issues, food addiction, and cocaine and alcohol dependency.
During this dark time, Johnstone stayed in an abusive relationship and lost and regained custody of two of her three children.
Her brother-in-law’s overdose was the catalyst Johnstone needed to pursue sobriety. During her first year, she spoke out about her childhood trauma and was able to move past her lifelong shame.
“Oct. 16, 2016 is my birthday – the day I really started to live,” she said. “I owned my story; I stopped fearing people’s opinions about me being an addict.”
In April 2017, Johnstone decided she wanted to be a public speaker and has been working toward her goal ever since. She has had speaking opportunities all over British Columbia as well as in Seattle and Portland.
She also contributed a chapter to a book and started a business.
Johnstone attributes her success to the many speakers she has met who are helping her stay focused and offering advice.
She has experienced a complete mindset shift since becoming sober and is passionate about pursuing her calling.
“Shame holds us back but I’m giving people a voice,” she said. “I’m here to teach people to ditch the shame and to live a badass life.”
Believing we all have the potential to make a difference, Johnstone supports people who struggle in all areas of life through workshops and presentations on owning your story and ditching shame.
The Miss, Mrs., Miss Teen and Junior Miss BC Program contributes to charity and community while enhancing the self-esteem and personal development of women across the province.
Johnstone hopes the Miss BC contest will help her further spread her message. She wants people who are going through abuse or addiction to know they’re not alone and it’s not too late to make a change. Being both sober and shame-free has taught her to enjoy life and treat it like a gift.
“Trauma or bad choices can’t hold you back,” she said. “I figured it out at 35; it’s never too late.”
The Miss BC pageant finale is at 6:30 p.m. on July 2 at Chief Sepass Theatre in Langley.