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Reigning Miss Maryland condones natural beauty

June 17, 2011|By TAYLOR ECKEL | taylor.eckel@herald-mail.com
  • Lindsay Staniszewski is Miss Maryland 2010.
Submitted photo

Lindsay Staniszewski knows how it feels to be "different."

"In high school I was bullied verbally because I was different in the way I carried myself and because I didn't succumb to peer pressure," she said, "I know how it feels to be an outsider."

Now a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park, Staniszewski is anything but an outsider. Last June, she was named Miss Maryland during the annual scholarship pageant.

On Saturday, June 25, she'll pass on the crown to another young lady during the Miss Maryland Pageant. Miss Maryland Outstanding Teen will also be crowned Saturday night.

"The Miss Maryland organization is a scholarship organization but it has a community-service base," she said, "A lot (of my reign) is built around my platform, which is 'Beyond Beauty for Girls.'"

Staniszewski said her campaign is designed to help girls discover beauty. She said she believes the media has distorted the meaning of beauty.

"The images that girls see in magazines are unrealistic," Staniszewski said, adding that reality TV shows, the widespread use of photo editing, and the glamorization of celebrities' poor choices all have a negative impact on girls.

"So many young women are needing a role model, someone to be a positive voice," she  said.

Staniszewski said true beauty comes from within, a message that is contrary to much of popular culture's message.

"Beauty to me is confidence in who you are, in your values and character, and using the talents you've been blessed with to impact others."

Staniszewski said that the feedback she gets from girls is positive and encouraging, and she especially cherishes the letters she receives from the young women she addresses.

"The work that I've been doing with my platform has been inspiring and has touched me in many ways," she said.

"My platform took form because of my own experiences," Staniszewski said, adding that her platform has evolved over the four years she has competed in the Miss Maryland pageant from a character-focused message to her current "Beyond Beauty for Girls."

She also hopes to encourage girls who are bullied for being "different."

"Being unique is beautiful," she said, adding that she advises girls to deal with the teasing the same way she did.

"Stay focused on goals you set for yourself and the big picture," she said. "The people who are trying to bring you down will not be successful if you focus on positive goals."

For Staniszewski, those goals included involvement in theater and vocal performance. She said she began competing in scholarship pageants because they were an opportunity to earn scholarship money and outlet for her "passion" for performance.

Through the pageants and her year as Miss Maryland, Staniszewski said she has gained valuable experience in public speaking and developed her interpersonal skills.

"Now I feel like I can go anywhere and talk to anyone," she said.

"A lot of what I've been doing this year has tied in well to what I'm studying," said Staniszewski, who plans to graduate this summer with a degree in communications.

Staniszewski said she hopes to combine her love of performance with her communications experience by pursuing a career in public relations with an entertainment company.

Staniszewski said she hopes young women will consider competing in scholarship pageants.

"I would absolutely encourage any young woman who is interested in scholarship money and gaining communication skills," she said, adding that the experience is valuable for all participants.

"If for some reason it doesn't work out the first time, and you don't win, keep trying."

Staniszewski was the runner-up for Miss Maryland three years in a row before winning in 2010. She said each year she resolved to improve in a specific area of the competition, and her hard work paid off. Staniszewski said she won in each of the categories of the 2010 Miss Maryland Pageant.

Contestants in the Miss Maryland pageant are judged in five areas and scored on a scale of one through 10. The interview counts for 25 percent, the onstage question 5 percent, talent is 35 percent, evening wear 20 percent, and lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit is 15 percent of the contestant's score.

if  you go ...
What: 2011 Miss Maryland and Miss Maryland Outstanding Teen Scholarship Pageant preliminaries
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, through Friday, June 24, for Miss Maryland and Miss Maryland Outstanding Teen.
Where: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown.
Cost: Costs $30 for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

What: Crowning for Miss Maryland and Miss Outstanding Teen Pageant
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, June 25
Cost: $55
Where: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown.
More: Go to www.mdtheatre.org or call 301-790-3500.

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