As a hard-working career woman and mother of two, the idea of winning a beauty pageant was never on Jane Vermeulen’s radar.
But that changed as the Esquimalt resident was crowned Mrs. Vancouver Island at the Miss, Mrs, and Miss Teen B.C. Pageant in Surrey earlier this month.
“I was excited, but quite exhausted,” she laughed.
The pageant was a chance for Vermeulen to shine, something she felt she hadn’t been able to do for some time. For the last seven years, Vermeulen has focused on everyone but herself. She kept busy at the Hillside Veternary Hospital where she works as a veternarian, and she ran Vets for Pets, providing free veterinary care to the pets of homeless and low-income pet owners at Our Place Society.
But things weren’t going as well in her personal life. Vermeulen and her husband had been trying to have children for several years when they eventually came to terms with the inevitable — that they would only be able to have children through fertility treatment. After months of appointments and six months of fertility treatments, she felt like little more than a collection of body parts.
“When you go through fertility treatment, it’s all about the status of your ovaries and your uterus. That’s what it’s about, how many eggs are you producing or how thick is your uterus?” she said.
“You will neglect the rest of your life when you go through fertility treatment because you have no control of your body or your schedule.”
It was also during that time when Vermeulen’s mother-in-law had a stroke. Vermeulen and her husband took turns visting her two to three times a week at a Victoria care facility. She passed away just before Vermeulen’s second child, Nora, was born.
In the months following the birth of her daugther, Vermeulen realized she wanted to focus on herself again and in November found out about the Miss, Mrs, and Miss Teen B.C. Pageant on the Victoria News website and decided to give it a try.
“My life had revolved around pregnancy, fertility treatment and my mother-in-law and then it was all done. I just wanted to do something for myself,” said Vermeulen, adding the pageant is for all ages, with the youngest participant being 13 years old and the oldest in their 50s. “It was time for me to step outside of my comfort zone.”
And she did just that, trading in her scrubs and runners for a dress and high heels, which she admits she had to relearn to walk in. She also got a manicure — her first in 10 years.
After three long days of rehersals and workshops stretching from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Vermeulen was crowned Mrs. Vancouver Island. But the pageant was about more than a crown for Vermeulen, who hopes to use her title to increase awareness of fertility treatment.
“I always like talking about what it’s like to go through fertility treatments. A lot of women have heard about it but don’t know the process,” she said, adding she’s looking forward to supporting charitable organizations, such as the Terry Fox Run, through the pageant as well.
Vermeulen wasn’t the only one from the Island to bring home a crown. Sixteen-year-old Lambrick Park student and Saanich resident Olivia Dunseith was crowned Miss Teen Vancouver Island and Robyn Thomas was crowned Miss Vancouver Island.