Local mom wins Miss Plus America pageant
August 17, 2010
By Chantelle Lusebrink
An arduous five-year journey ended with roses and a crown for Renton resident Latasha Haskins, 29, who was crowned Miss Plus America 2010 on July 17.
“I’m already extremely excited,” she said. “I’ve been really praying that God would open the doors for me to meet people that I would never, otherwise, be able to meet.
“I think that my personal platform, and that of Miss Plus America, is really relevant to our country right now.”
A tough climb
Two years ago, at 27, Haskins had done what takes many a lifetime to conquer — faced her fears, accepted herself and changed her outlook on life.
“I went through a period where I thought my life was over,” she said, in a 2008 interview. “I was living away from my family, raising two kids by myself, living on [Department of Health and Social Services], I was overweight and didn’t have a good job.
“One day, I realized that that wasn’t what I wanted, so I took a real hard look at myself — the whole thing, weight, appearance, education — I got real with myself and I was appalled.”
Slowly but surely, she conquered each obstacle in front of her, with her boys — Isaiah, now 10, and Kevin, now 7 — her mother and her father by her side.
She said she decided to join the Miss Plus America pageant system, because it’s something she believes in.
The national pageant is designed to foster the belief that “all women are beautiful, inside and out and deserve a chance to promote those causes closest to her heart with a title worthy of her representation,” according to the pageant organization’s website.
A dream built on self-belief
Attending her first national pageant in Dallas was an eye-opening experience, she said.
The women compete in four categories, photogenic appeal, an evening gown event, a fashion pant event and an interview. The interview makes up 50 percent of the overall score given to each contestant.
Prizes for the winner of the competition include monetary awards, a traditional crown and sash, their expenses paid at the competition and a chance to promote their platform during their reign.
When she began as a Washington delegate, she developed a curriculum to help women like herself change their attitudes toward life from the inside out, by using her story and partnering with Washington Women Employment and Education.
Though she didn’t win in 2008, or in 2009, she believed she needed to try one more time.
She was spurred on, she said, by her father’s unexpected death at 49 from a heart attack, last fall.
“My father was a huge, huge support,” she said. “He always encouraged me. So, you know, I’m one of those people that once I have my mind set that I’m going to do something, I do it.”
Giving it her all
This year, Haskins said she spent more time eating right and exercising, not just for the competition, but because she realized she needed to take better care of herself.
“My father was healthy, so it was shocking,” she said. “He always wanted me to pursue health and always told me, ‘You’re beautiful the way you are and I love you the way you are, but you need to be healthy.’”
That knowledge, she said, helped edge out the competition, because it gave her more confidence and she could feel comfortable with herself.
“It was amazing, because I felt really prepared,” she said. “But it was like being in a room full of shining stars. So, how do you get yours to shine a little brighter?”
Just because she has the crown doesn’t mean this beauty is about to rest. As part of her reign this year, she plans to help further the mission of the Miss Plus America organization.
“I want to empower women that represent the average size of the American woman, who is usually a size 12 or 14 and above,” she said. “The organization wasn’t created to glorify obesity, but it helps women understand that you don’t have to only be a media- or Hollywood-created size 2 to make an impact or count to the people around you.”
She is also using her year’s reign to continue to develop her platform, which includes all single parents.
“I want other people to see that you can’t be defined, stopped or hindered by your circumstances,” she said. “Bottom line, I was in a position of homelessness, there wasn’t enough food and I didn’t have power. But the truth is, there are resources out there and things there to help.
“If you have a dream and a goal for something, you can obtain it, but you have to believe in yourself before anyone else does sometimes.”
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