Standing at 5’6, Easher Parker has sparkling doe eyes, glistening white teeth that makes one think that she wouldn’t have to audition for a toothpaste commercial, lips that look like they’ve been dipped and moistened in strawberry juice, and a face that brightens like it’s lit by Utopian sunshine. But make no mistake, there’s more to Miss Turks and Caicos than beauty pageant grins. She’s not some simpleton whose only saving grace was being blessed with good looks.
The daughter of a Haitian mother and father, Parker outshone dozens of other girls for the prestigious title of Miss Turks and Caicos 2011 and went to represent the island in Brazil last summer. An avid reader, she enjoys juicy historical fiction in the vein of The Other Boleyn Girl, and has a love for the visual arts.
Like other forward-thinking beauties who’ve won pageants, she’s planning her next move, and judging from her determination, intelligence, and spunk, you had better believe that earning the title of Miss Turks and Caicos will not be the only highlight of her life.
As a beauty queen, how would you define beauty?
Beauty to me is probably one of the most undefined words known to man. Everyone has their own perception of what it is. This can range from physical appearance to personality traits —but to those like me—beauty is when an individual can embrace who they really are, flaws and all while taking on the world with a positive, impacting and confident attitude.
Would you say you had a nice childhood?
I have nothing about my childhood to complain about; however, things were pretty hostile in my parents’ household at the time. I am glad I was spared the nightmare experiences and had a mom to take care of me, but that doesn’t change the fact that I faced neglect. The difference with me is that I accepted that it happened. I learned that it is I who determines my happiness and that no one can take that from me unless I allow it. My past has helped define who I am today. I don’t think I would be as passionate about the prevention and awareness against child abuse had I not gone through it in some shape, way or form.
What’s the best thing about being Haitian?
Everything. There is nothing I like more for the other. I must say however, the distinctive sarcasm and humor that Haitians have does come in handy when I want to cheer someone up!
You represented Miss Turks and Caicos as the Miss Universe pageant.
I had such a blast on my trip to Sao Paulo Brazil. I enjoyed getting to know the girls and found it so interesting that we all had a lot in common and could relate to each other judging by the fact that we all came from different cultures at every corner of the globe. I actually celebrated my 20th [birthday] while there. Had the biggest cake!
How did you get started in beauty pageants?
A friend of mine one summer when I was about fifteen years old entered a pageant and because we were the type to do everything together I entered too. The twist? She ended up not being able to continue her participation and I ended up being the only one out of the two of us to compete. I don’t even think I did well that year.
What advice do you have for the next young lady who will carry on the torch for next year?
Follow your heart in everything that you do. That’s something I tell every individual who has their eyes set on a goal. Remember to surround yourself with positive people who you know you wouldn’t mind becoming and yes, even if it’s a former beauty queen!
How has life changed for you since you’ve been elected Miss Turks and Caicos?
I’ve become a more tolerant, patient and humble individual. In the world of pageantry, you are sometimes faced with difficulties that can either make you or break you. Lucky for me, I’ve managed to break through each and every challenge!
You must have big plans for your future.
I wouldn’t call them big plans, but for the time being I want to continue to pursue a career in media and hopefully realize my long-term goal of launching a website highlighting the issues of child abuse in the Turks and Caicos, which will feature mini webisodes and interactive content.
Now you were born in Turks and Caicos, but your parents are from Haiti.
Yeah, they are; but they’ve known Turks and Caicos all their lives as well, literally. I think what kept the culture vibrant with them was the traveling back and forth to Haiti over the years and family ties of course.
What’s the first thing you plan to do when you make your first trip to Haiti?
Shop at a Ti mache! I love those; you find the coolest things when you keep a keen eye. I’m a vintage fashion junkie and Ti Mache always has something of my interest.
When did you first become aware of your Haitian identity?
I always knew! I grew up speaking Creole and under Haitian parenting. I played more with my Haitian relatives and initially befriended Haitians during my childhood. As far as my command of the language, I just decided to repeat French terminology the elders and country side people used to improve my Kreyòl.
How is Haitian identity in Turks and Caicos? How are Haitians perceived there?
Haitians here are distinguished as one of the working Diasporas. Although the locals are upset about some pressing issues surrounding Haitian immigrants, I have to give them their props for trying to make a way and wanting to work. No matter how annoying some Haitians get, they’re all a proud and working set.
You mentioned that you want to raise awareness about child abuse in Turks and Caicos. What would you say it’s like right now?
Child abuse is something that is swept under the rug, like many other issues in the Turks & Caicos. I’m no specialist, but I think one factor is due to the many different cultures that make up the overall sociology towards it. For example, Haitian parents typically use the belt. To them, it would sound ludicrous to hear that constantly using that method would have more [undesirable] effects other than making children behave. Turks Island parents have a tendency to be verbally harsh with their children. Most don’t want to hear that sometimes; they go overboard and end up verbally abusing a child. In most cases, parents don’t even realize that they do it.
Will you eventually set up a non-profit to help that cause, or are you planning on working with any organizations?
I have thought about it on a number of accounts but I’m the type of person that likes to get my ducks in a neat row before I take on a project. In the meantime I work with CAPAA TCI which stands for Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Association. Hopefully, I can establish something for the youths of TCI in the near future.
Do you feel that people are intimidated by you?
Not to sound like someone with an inflated ego, but yes, I do think I am intimidating sometimes, but in a good way. I have had countless of individuals admit to being intimidated by me, most say it’s because I come across as serious and hard to approach. The humor in it all, is that I’m extremely bubbly and was clueless to this fact for a while.
What are you most grateful for?
Just for the fact that I am able to take another breath each day. To me, life itself is a blessing. If I wasn’t blessed with another day, another year all my life, it’s obvious I wouldn’t have all the opportunities and wonderful experiences that I’ve had.
Photos: Kazz Forbes