POINCIANA – When Valerie Trinidad was growing up, she absolutely loved watching beauty pageants.
“Ever since I was little, I always watched the Miss Universe contest,” she said. “I fell in love with pageants, and told myself maybe that’s something I can do.”
Entering one wasn’t easy, at first. Trinidad was shy and withdrawn, and didn’t think she could work up the courage to appear before a huge crowd, compete with other girls her age, and make a strong presentation to the judges.
She was wrong.
Her love for the pageant itself turned out to be the motivation she needed – and actually being a part of one, she later realized, significantly helped a shy girl come out of her shell.
“I love dressing up, and the make-up, and the hair,” she said. “It’s amazing. I feel more brave on stage than I do the rest of the time. I’m not as shy on stage.”
What Trinidad did was she entered the Miss Florida Latina competition, and she not only got accepted – she was crowned, as the 2011 Miss Kissimmee Florida Latina. It was, she admits, an overwhelmingly positive experience.
“Being crowned Miss Kissimmee Florida Latina I found amazing,” she said. “It was really fun to see the entire Kissimmee community be so surprised to see this. I remember that year I was in the Christmas parade, and everybody said, ‘Oh, wow, Miss Kissimmee, Miss Kissimmee,’ and I felt like the president or something.”
That’s exactly why she now wants young girls in Poinciana to experience that same feeling of pride, and accomplishment, and that sense of self-worth.
“I know our new Miss Poinciana is going to have an amazing time,” she said.
Trinidad is the assistant director of the upcoming Miss Poinciana Pageant, an event that will be held for the first time on July 27, as part of Poinciana’s 40th anniversary bash.
It was started by Poinciana Pros, a networking group for local small business owners. The Association of Poinciana Villages, the community’s homeowners association, has agreed to become the official sponsor of this event.
Melody Nadal, the founder of Poinciana Pros and the pageant director, said this is a contest open to girls in three categories: Little Miss, Teen Miss and Miss Poinciana 2013.
“Our pageant is universal in that it’s multicultural and open to all cultures,” she said. “It’s not specific to any one nationality, where some other surrounding pageants are.”
Trindad will be coaching the girls who enter the competition, a task she’s definitely looking forward to.
“When I’m on stage, I light up,” she said. “Doing pageants has really brought out another side of me, and encouraged me to help other girls who are a lot like I was.”
Because while a pageant can seem like a daunting challenge at first for a shy teen, it can be a very liberating experience, she added.
“Pageants are always a little bit intimidating,” Trinidad said. “You look at other girls, and think maybe if I was a little taller or my eyes were different … and then you think, ‘This is me, this is who I am,’ and you think about what you can bring to the judges, and when you speak about yourself, it’s like you’re the only one on stage, and always will be.”
Pageants, she said, teach girls to be positive about themselves during their teen years, a difficult time emotionally as they’re just starting to mature.
“I think pageants really encourage girls to stay healthy, work out, and really admire the attributes they have for themselves,” she said. “You look in the mirror and you’re always posing and get to work on your weaknesses while taking part in this.”
One thing a lot of people don’t know about pageants, she added, is that while they’re officially a competition, there’s not much backstabbing that goes on behind the scenes – just the opposite, in fact.
“There are always stereotypes that there are catfights backstage and people tearing each other’s dresses,” Trinidad laughed. “But I’ve made lifelong friends at these pageants. We talk on Facebook and see each other at fashion events. That’s something I want to make this Poinciana pageant about, making friends and having new experiences.”
Trinidad also loves the idea of using the pageant to put a positive face on Poinciana, the community she calls home.
“Poinciana is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and by bringing this pageant to the 40th year, we can show people what’s really great about the community,” Trinidad said. “Poinciana is a small community, but we’re really going to bring a lot of people to this pageant, and our winner can show the rest of the county what Poinciana is.
“Because right now,” she added, “there’s a girl out there, and she might win, and then she can say ‘Hey, I’m Miss Poinciana, and this is what we’re all about.”
To learn more about the pageant, call Nadal at 321-437-6750 or email PoincianaPros@aol.com.
Applications are now available in Poinciana at Starbucks, the Poinciana Community Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Poinciana.
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