Outpouring of support helped outgoing Miss Fa'afafine
The reigning Miss Samoa Fa'afafine, Barbra Tiufea Va'a, from Safotu and Taufusi, said her journey was made easy by an outpouring of support.
The 30-year-old said she always had her families, friends as well as the Samoa Fa'afafine Association (S.F.A.) behind her while she was the reigning Miss Fa'afafine.
"My parents have been my role models because they have raised me, showed me love and supported me," she said.
She will relinquish her crown on Friday night but not before giving a word of advice to her successor.
"Work, and stay close to Samoa Fa'afafine Association to advocate more about how and finding possible solutions to combat violence, stigma and discrimination against all kinds of gender," she said.
"My advice to the next crown holder is to remember that this is your calling, it has nothing to do with other people and their opinions.
"You won because you deserve it, so give it your best shot until this very moment next year don’t let anyone make you feel inferior because you worked for this and won it.
"A message to the people of Samoa is to end violence, stigma and discrimination to anyone but rather support each other."
Barbra said she was honored to be crowned and receive so many opportunities in the past year.
"I got of a lot of opportunity given by them (S.F.A.). I once traveled to NZ to participate in emerging artists event for two weeks and attended every event S.F.A. was invited to," she said.
"[It allowed me] to meet new people and it’s good for me because it builds up my confidence to stand before them and talk publicly."
The number one challenge she faced during her reign as the Miss Samoa Fa'afafine was mockery.
"People are always teasing us, always talking about fa’afafine whenever we pass by and I’m sure it’s still happening right now," she said.
"Discrimination and negative opinions by others but these are common issues faced by the fa'afafine community. I did not let the negativity affect me, all I cared about was to focus on my journey."
Miss Barbra discussed the growing involvement of young fa'afafines in the association, saying it's a great thing.
"When I came in, there weren’t a lot of young fa'afafines to join in the association, because of the mentality that they are afraid of the older fa’afafines, thinking we are strict and intense but no," she said.
"So once they come in and I talk to them, so they know and then they notice that no, it’s okay.
"Just to come join and because S.F.A. is like a safe space for all young fa’afafine, so whatever happens to them, S.F.A. stands up for them to protect them."
Miss Barbra acknowledged her sponsors, her sisters from American Samoa and New Zealand, as well as her Samoa Stationery and Books (SSAB) family for their support.