Miss Universe Australia on diversity, resilience and her 'surreal' new role

Gillian Wolski
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Francesca was crowned Miss Universe Australia in 2018. Photo: Instagram/francesca.hung

Despite being crowned Miss Universe Australia just last year and with a string of modelling jobs under her belt, Francesca Hung still can’t quite believe her photo is being posted in shop windows this Christmas.

The 25-year-old Sydneysider has stripped off to star in Aussie lingerie brand Bras N Things’ holiday campaign and tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “It’s a bit of a pinch-me moment for me honestly.”

For Francesca, who was born to a Chinese father and Irish-Australian mother, the job was a no-brainer as she’s always admired the brand’s approach to inclusivity.

“They’ve always been breaking that mould in terms of their models and the sizes they stock,” she says, “I think it’s so great for diversity for young girls to see someone who might look like them on these posters, or billboards or in-store.”

But for Francesca herself, it was a different story when she was first finding her feet in the modelling world.

Francesca Hung (wearing the Eliza bra and undie set arriving in early December) is the star of Bras N Things' 'Merry Everything' Christmas campaign. Photo: Bras N Things (supplied).
Francesca stuns in the Belle Balconette Underwire Bra in ivory/light pink, $49.99. Photo: Bras N Things (supplied).

Diversity in fashion

“When I was starting out, to be honest, I didn’t really have too many people that I could identify with,” she admits.

Modelling was also a foreign concept to her parents, who Francesca says ‘pride themselves in being quite academic’.

“My dad is a doctor, he came from a Chinese immigrant family, so [modelling] was an abstract concept but [he and my mum] told me that if I really wanted to do it, I could do it but I had to also go to university and finish my degree,” she says.

Francesca (in the Paradise Dentele Bra, $59.99) with fellow models Carla Centrone (in the Jungle Tropical Cami, $29.99) and Katie Muirhead (in the Jungle Animal cami, $29.99 and shorts, $29.99). Photo: Bras N Things (supplied).

Continuing the conversation

Not only does she have a degree in Arts and Sociology, Francesca is currently just two subjects away from completing a Masters in Publishing at the University of Sydney.

Today, Francesca looks up to David Jones ambassador and Sports Illustrated star Jessica Gomes, who is doing ‘amazing things’, and says that the landscape is ‘definitely changing’ for the better.

Until inclusivity and representation in fashion campaigns and the media at large become the rule and not the exception, Francesca is happy to continue the conversation, even if it gets a bit repetitive at times.

“It doesn’t bother me, I come from a place where there was nobody [like me] in advertising so [...] if we’re talking about it it means we’re really moving forward but I do see a time in maybe five or 10 years when there are girls growing up who think it’s strange to see a billboard without diversity and that’s the goal,” she explains.

Francesca struts her stuff at the 2018 Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok. Photo: Getty Images.

Miss Universe Australia

Francesca is still learning, too, and credits a lot of personal growth to her Miss Universe Australia experience in 2018 which saw a controversial video of her and two fellow contestants seemingly mocking another competitor’s English skills take some attention away from her win.

“I’m so much more resilient now, I know it’s a bit cliche to say but I think once you’re thrown into that world when you’re on stage and immersed in everything online and everyone has an opinion on you, I think you sort of [learn to] remove yourself and I think that has helped me so much in this industry,” she says.

“I’m just not affected by anything I read and see about myself online anymore,” she adds.

When the Instagram Live video first surfaced, Francesca insisted that the conversation between herself, Miss USA and Miss Colombia was taken out of context and made to seem like something it wasn’t.

She took to Instagram to say that “this year has taught me so much about self-acceptance and understanding for others”.

After being crowned Miss Universe Australia, Francesca went on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant held in Thailand, placing in the top 20.

Now, Francesca wants to use her experience to help guide others.

“It’s taught me that we need those role models and that’s pushed me further to be a good role model for young women, young girls, anybody, really,” she says.

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