When American stars head abroad to wars on foreign turf, they tend to go the route of the USO. Not so for England’s latest celebrity to head to Afghanistan. Katrina Hodge, a former Miss England and lingerie model, is on her way to Afghanistan as a solider for the British Army.
Katrina Hodge already served in the Army in Iraq (before she entered the Miss England beauty pageant) and has now re-enlisted. She is being sent to combat duty in Afghanistan. She says that Iraq was a “culture shock” when she arrived in contrast to the glamorous life she lived as a beauty queen and model in Europe before joining the military.
"It's definitely a change of lifestyle from having your hair and makeup done every day to being in your combats and having your hair scraped back," she told AFP. Lest you think she is shallow and overly-focused on her looks, please note that she also complained about the stark differences between camping out in forests compared to camping out in 5-star hotels.
Her title as Miss England came after a scandal in 2009 involving the then-Miss England who (in Shannon Doherty-like fashion) engaged in a nightclub-brawl and lost her title as a result. As runner-up, Katrina Hodge was then crowned Miss England.
You may have heard of Katrina Hodge referred to as “Combat Barbie”—not to be confused with our very own “Caribou Barbie”-- and while you may have a tendency to just write her off as there only for the publicity, consider that she was also decorated for bravery “after stopping an insurgent prisoner from shooting her comrades during an escape attempt” before she was crowned Miss England. (However, given what we know about US celebrity-soldiers now-deceased Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, there might be more to Katrina Hodge’s story than the media is now reporting about the war(s) and her role in the military just based on her looks alone.)
The beauty queen/soldier/lingerie model has written a book telling of her exploits both in the military and as a beauty queen and model in Europe. (Unfortunately when I checked Amazon, I found that the book, Combat to Catwalk is not yet available and wasn’t able to read any reviews on it.)
Katrina Hodge is not the first combination beauty queen/soldier. Miss Utah 2007, Jill Stevens, aka GI Jill, served in the US army as a medic in Afghanistan before going on to win her state’s crown as part of the Miss America pageant. She was first sent to Afghanistan in 2005 and was a member of the Utah National Guard as well as a fitness buff.
Please also note that the US is not shy about using GI Jill's story as free publicity, either.