Giselle Laronde-West once won the Miss World beauty pageant. Though noted for her beauty, she has a life that is rich in more than just beauty. Kreol looks at her early life, achievements, and everyday life.

Beauty pageants are a staple of human society. Proponents argue that beauty pageants are a celebration of the female form, while detractors view them as little more than events that confine women to old standards and push beauty as the only asset a woman can use. Giselle Laronde-West rose to fame as a pageant winner from Trinidad and Tobago who went on to win the Miss World crown. After her victory, however, she transcended the beauty pageant label and used her success in that competition to achieve even greater success in her life.

Early Days in Trinidad and Tobago

Born Giselle Jeanne-Marie Laronde in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, she grew up in various locations throughout Trinidad during her early years. Her parents moved numerous times during her childhood, spending time in the East and West of the island before eventually settling in Marabella. From the ages of 10 to 23, she lived there surrounded by a loving family. Her parents were always involved in her life. Giselle was a very active participant in her scholarly work as well as sporting activities.

From a very young age, she aspired to live a happy and healthy life. She started that pursuit early on as a multi-sport star in her youth. Her life would change forever in her early 20s, and it all occurred quite by chance. Following graduation from St. Francois Girls High School, Giselle was working at a local credit union. Her friends and family prodded her to participate in the Miss World auditions in the nation’s capital of Port-of-Spain. What happened next changed the trajectory of her life.

Giselle on a visit to The Gambia, Africa, at an SOS village during her reign as Miss World 1987

Giselle on a visit to The Gambia, Africa, at an SOS village during her reign as Miss World 1987

Miss World

Giselle’s friends and family were not the only supporters in her corner as she headed to Port-of-Spain for the initial pageant. A former pageant winner insisted that she enter the competition, and even went as far as getting her entry package together and taking her to the screening. Although she never thought of herself as a gorgeous woman, she was a confident person and comfortable in her appearance. That knowledge and confidence was evident on the stage, with one judge even telling her she looked at ease and seemed to flow when she walked.

After being crowned as her nation’s representative for the Miss World contest, Giselle went to London for the event. She would go on to shock the world by winning the Miss World crown as the representative of Trinidad and Tobago. She was just 23 when she won the crown, and became only the second woman from her country to win an international beauty pageant, following in the footsteps of Janelle Commisiong at the Miss Universe in 1977.

Life After Miss World

Giselle was humbled and honoured to be recognized, both in her home nation and abroad, for her beauty. She credits her experience in the pageant for shaping her world view, stating the following:

“It certainly made me more aware of what the world had to offer and gave me the determination to live a good life and help others as much as I could. Working with children in need and living traumatic lives is certainly a heart stopper and seeing how much good can be done and is being done by the Miss World organization.”

She was so taken with London and the United Kingdom that she decided to use her winnings from the pageant to attend University. Giselle enrolled at the University of London where she was awarded a degree in sociology and communication. Though she now lives back in her native Trinidad, she considers London one of her favourite cities in the world. Her time in University in London gave her an appreciation for the city’s architecture, a love of its history, and life-long friends (Maxine Assanah and Michelle Pusey) she met during her studies.

The queens at a celebration of Giselle'S 25th anniversary as Miss World hosted by Angostura Limited. On GISELLE'S RIGHT is Janelle Commissiong – Miss Universe 1977 and ON GISELLE'S LEFT IS Wendy Fitzwilliam – Miss Universe 1998 – both from Trinidad and Tobago

The queens at a celebration of Giselle’S 25th anniversary as Miss World hosted by Angostura Limited. On GISELLE’S RIGHT is Janelle Commissiong – Miss Universe 1977 and ON GISELLE’S LEFT IS Wendy Fitzwilliam – Miss Universe 1998 – both from Trinidad and Tobago

Life at Home in Trinidad

Giselle used her degree from the University of London to eventually land a position with Angostura Limited in Trinidad and Tobago. It was here that she has raised her two sons, Kye (20) and Kristof (15). Kye is a student at the College of Charleston in the United States, a school he attends on a football scholarship. Kristof plays water polo with a club in Trinidad, and both boys hold black belts in karate. Giselle chose to raise her children back in Trinidad because, as she states:

“Our country is full of different cultures as it is an eclectic society with many ethnicities so they have so much to learn and they are both very culture oriented and love to explore and observe and try new things that I know that they will do well in the world.”

Giselle with  her family

Giselle with her family

Today, Giselle is the Corporate Communications Manager for Angostura Limited. She admits that she’s an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type of person. She participates in cross fit three times a week, and practices karate on Mondays and Thursdays. She may no longer live her life in the spotlight of the Miss World Organization, but that doesn’t mean life has gotten bland. In addition to raising her children, staying fit, and working full time, she recently participated in the New York Karate Championships, winning the gold medal.