B.C.’s Brandi Hansen may not be Maxim’s next cover girl, but winning was never her motive — it was to see how far her message of body-positivity could fly.
“I made this little paper plane and the public took it to the sky,” Hansen says. “Without them, this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Hansen lived in Terrace and other Northwest communities for about 10 years as a pilot, active search and rescue member, and frequent fisher of the Skeena and Kalum rivers.
A few months ago, the Penticton-based mother entered the 2019 Maxim Cover Girl Canada contest on a whim and submitted photos of herself hiking, climbing glaciers and flying planes instead of skimpy bikini shots often expected of the men magazine.
She edged out thousands of contestants to become a semi-finalist by showcasing her skills, not her skin.
“From Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, from all across the country, people really reached out,” she says. “I wanted to see how far I could get fully clothed, doing things I love to do.”
Hansen finished second in her semi-final group, despite holding the top spot right until the last hour of the competition.
Chances to purchase votes while competing against social media influencers made it difficult to secure first place, Hansen says. But with an estimated 600 votes a day, she felt the finale was close.
Either way, she says the publicity she’s received during the competition has opened up new opportunities for her as a positive role model.
“I was contacted by a lot of outdoorsy companies, shows and magazines, asking me to work for them,” she says. “That’s something I can get down with.”
If she won, Hansen had planned to donate the $10,000 prize to create four $2,000 scholarships for young women in aviation, and B.C. Search and Rescue.
She says she still plans on moving forward on some ideas, including creating a fund within the Royal Canadian Air Cadets for female pilots.
“That’s when young girls get into aviation, through the Cadets — they can get a private license when they’re 14-years-old.”
Hansen also used the competition as a learning opportunity for her daughter, who Hansen calls her “biggest little fan.”
“The moment I got second place she texted me and called me, she was super upset. I told her to take a deep breath and I explained to her that the cover was never my goal,” she says.
“We made it this far doing something totally different from everyone else. Temporarily, maybe she lost sight of what was going on, but then I explained to her — we already won. We didn’t have to be on the cover to win.”