To Wheaton College junior Alyssa Paulsen, true beauty comes from within.
She’s so passionate about the mantra, she made it her platform as in the USA Ambassadors Pageant, and won the national USA Ambassador Miss 2012 title at the July finals in Tampa, FL.
As the pageant queen, Paulsen will spend the year promoting the two-year-old pageant's motto of women's success through leadership, integrity, character and confidence (SLICC).
While judges weighed interviews, onstage conversations, formal wear and talent, Paulsen’s goal leading into the competition was to spread her message: “Don’t define yourself by what you look like when you’re doing something, but focus on what you’re doing and who you are,” she told Patch
Since receiving her title as queen, Paulsen has appeared at charitable events to raise money for various causes, including Little Smiles! and the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation, according to her Facebook page.
She has maintained the new USA Ambassador Miss 2012 Facebook page with photos of her experiences as queen, and words of inspiration for her fans. "One little smile could make a big difference in someone's day!," she wrote Saturday.
The health science major and Latham, NY native grew up working in the modeling industry and pageant scene, and eventually "burnt out" from striving for the perfect look.
"I've realized, the faces we see in magazines and in media are not real, and it's impossible to reach the standard of beauty that's portrayed," Paulsen said.
“When you reach it, it’s like ‘what do you do now?” She said. “’What is that doing to help people?'... We're not decorations."
Paulsen visited Retirement Community in the spring, where she told residents the impact they have as grandparents, “You as grandparents have more impact than you’ll ever know on your grandchildren with a simple compliment on a quality that comes from within, such as ‘I love your smile’ or ‘I heard your wonderful laugh all the way down the hall’ rather than commenting on external qualities such as ‘You’re so nice and thin’ or ‘Your make-up looks good today.’”
Paulsen also visited on last spring, where she showed students an airbrushed picture of herself, looking like a “plastic doll.” The students were “blown away,” she said.
Paulsen hopes to eventually partner with the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders to continue to spread her message. She plans to continue speaking to students, and will head to Tampa, FL in July for the national USA Ambassador Pageant competition.
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