One of the best parts of the Miss America Organization are the relationships contestants and titleholders take away from their experience. This young woman, Kylie Thompson is one of those people you are ecstatic to know. I had the pleasure of spending Miss Wisconsin 2015 week with her and can honestly tell you that she embodies exactly what this program is all about. She is passionate about giving back to the community, possesses a deep desire to make a difference in the others’ lives, has a powerful message to share, and holds a sincere zest for life and the people she loves. Kylie, thank you for staying true to who you are and shining your positive energy on everyone who has the blessing of getting to know you.
Name: Kylie Thompson
Birthday: February 28th
Hometown: Beloit, Wisconsin
Education: I am currently halfway through my freshman year at St. Norbert College majoring in communication and minoring in leadership. After this semester is over, I will be transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Rock County for the 2016/2017 school year.
Dream job: I would love to work for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) in New York City one day, or be a motivational speaker sharing my own story of battling an eating disorder. If I do not make it to New York City, I plan on staying local and working for the city of Beloit, specifically the Visit Beloit Corporation.
Favorite color: Cobalt blue!
1. What inspired you to get involved with the Miss America Organization? Besides the incredible opportunity to receive scholarships and share a platform I am passionate about? My grandmother, Deloris, actually inspired me to get involved with the MAO; she had been taking me to the Miss Beloit pageants since I was a tyke, and I realized I was old enough to compete around the same time she was diagnosed with cancer. Vying for the title of Miss Beloit 2015 was not only for me, but it was for her as well. I wanted my grandmother to see me up on the same stage as we had watched so many other young ladies compete on. Winning the pageant was a dream come true for the both of us.
2. Tell us about your first MAO pageant. Miss Beloit was my first pageant, actually. I was blessed enough to win a title on my first try. I actually signed up to compete for the pageant a few days past the deadline, but I was allowed in because the program was in need of more girls. I competed against four other wonderful girls who were definitely more experienced than I was, but by God’s grace, I won! It was truly the most magical moment of my life and definitely a night, and year, I will never forget.
3. What is/was your platform and why did you choose it? My platform is entitled “End the Stigma; Eating Disorders and Life after Recovery” during my year of service, I have shared my story of battling an eating disorder and discussed topics that others seem to keep under wraps in the eating disorder community, such as relapse, the physical tolls eating disorders can have on one’s body, and the stigmas that come along with having an eating disorder. Stigmas that go hand in hand with eating disorders are:
- Only teenage girls have eating disorders
- You can’t die from an eating disorder
- You have to be skinny to be suffering from Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa
All of those are false statements that can seriously hinder one’s recovery from an eating disorder, or even make someone believe that they are not sick when they are. My platform brings attention to these stigmas along with others and corrects false opinions. My platform is a very emotional and personal passion of mine and at times sharing was difficult, but it has been incredible seeing what bringing attention to this mental illness has done for my city.
4. What is your favorite phase of competition, why? I love the talent portion! (My talent is vocal performance.) There is no feeling more wonderful than belting the final note of a song and knowing you gave it your all after months of hard work and preparation. I used to sing every day in elementary, middle, and high school, so being able to continue singing every now and then is always a wonderful feeling. I especially love being able to pick my own repertoire and decide how I want to act on stage. The talent portion of a pageant is most definitely my favorite.
5. Style, Service, Scholarship, or Success? It’s so hard to pick just one, oh my gosh! I think I need to pick success, because that is something that is very important to me (not that the other three are not!) Being successful and living a life full of happiness and great accomplishments is something I pride myself on, and even when I fail at something, I still consider myself to be on the right path to success. Without a few failures and mishaps, we’d never be able to appreciate what true success and triumph feels like!
6. What titles have you held and what were some of your biggest accomplishments or most cherished memories during each of them?
Miss Beloit 2015 is my one and only title thus far, but during my year of service I have done some pretty awesome things!
- Raising $575.00 for the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) doing various fundraisers.
- My favorite fundraiser was held at the Beloit, WI Buffalo Wild Wings: I was there all day talking to people about what NEDA does and sharing my story, and at the end of the day I did the
- Blazin’ Challenge and raised $100.00 alone with that! It was amazing to have the city of Beloit watching me devour seven excruciatingly hot wings and donate to such an amazing cause.
- I also made a team and participated in a NEDA walk in Madison, WI with some of my Miss Beloit directors, and best friends, and family members. Being able to have the support from my city brought to Madison for a day was incredible, and hearing the success stories from those who recovered from eating disorders reminded me of why I loved my platform so much.
- Going to Miss Wisconsin 2015 was also a MAJOR highlight of my year of service. Getting to meet and spend a week with other intelligent, driven, stunning women and compete for the title of Miss Wisconsin was something I never dreamed I’d get to experience, but I am glad I did. I learned so much about what it means to be a part of the Miss America Organization and I walked away with 25 new sisters.
7. What is/was your talent and what do/did you enjoy most about performing it? My talent this year, as I said earlier, was vocal performance. I sang the musical theatre piece “Gimme Gimme” from the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at both Miss Beloit and Miss Wisconsin 2015. This song was also a tribute to my grandmother because it was the first musical she took me to when I was a little girl. Knowing she was in the audience while performing at the local pageant was incredible, because I knew that she knew I was singing it just for her. And when I got to take it to the state level, although she was not there, I gave it my all and got a standing ovation from the audience. It was a moment that I will never be able to replace.
8. Who is your biggest role model within the Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Program? Stephanie Klett! She is a former Miss Beloit and Miss Wisconsin and is just a joy to be around! I love that after all of these years, she still is giving back to both the city of Beloit and the state of Wisconsin through her career choices. Seeing all she has done with her life both in and outside of the MAO has inspired me in many ways.
9. Favorite comfort food outside of competition mode? Over the last few years I have become quite the foodie! But, unfortunately, any type of culinary class I have goes out the window after pageant season is over. Literally right after I was crowned Miss Beloit I was at Applebee’s indulging in their half priced appetizer deal with friends and family… If I remember right I had beer cheese pretzels, s’mores dippers, wings, and spinach and artichoke dip. And post Miss Wisconsin, stuffed crust pizza was all I could talk about. Taco Bell is also a prime choice when not in competition mode… Basically anything that is not good for you is what I’m about.
10. Who is your favorite Miss America? Why? I am OBSESSED with Betty Cantrell, the current Miss America. I fell in love with her during the pageant because she was imperfect; tripping on her dress and stuttering when asked her on-stage question. I love that the Miss America judges this year showed that you don’t have to be flawless to win. Cantrell is more than worthy of her title. Her platform which promotes a healthy lifestyle is also something I think is really great. Not to mention she is gorgeous!!
11. How would you describe the feelings you had when you won your first local? What goes through your mind when you are standing on stage and you hear your name called? I could not even tell you what was going through my head when I was crowned. Just a few minutes prior one of my dear friends had been crowned Miss Beloit’s Outstanding Teen and I had also won Miss Congeniality… I was already over the moon! When my name was called it was just insane. All I remember is crying and not bending down low enough to get my crown on correctly. I was honestly a mess. (in the most fabulous way, of course.)
12. If someone says, “You’re a beauty queen, what’s the relevancy of a pageant in today’s society,” what would you say to them? Although when people say “beauty queen”, they usually mean it as a compliment, after all, they’re saying you’re beautiful, I still do not accept the term when I hear it. I always correct people when speaking with them about pageants. Although all of the woman who are titleholders are beautiful on the outside, they are even more stunning on the inside! And when I am asked about the relevancy of pageantry I always bring up the four S’s the MAO holds so near and dear: style, scholarship, service, and success. These four points of the Miss America crown are what keep the pageant relevant. The Miss America Organization inspires young women to be ambitious and have goals, and to never quit believing in themselves. The pageant is about so much more than a swimsuit and a pretty dress. It’s all about what you have to say and your opinions. That is why there is an interview. Pageants are very relevant because they teach young ladies to be themselves, be confident in who they are and what they have to say, as well as how they look. Every girl deserves to feel intelligent and beautiful, and that exactly what pageants do for them.
13. What is the most memorable moment you’ve experienced as a contestant/titleholder? During Miss Wisconsin week, the contestants were at the Oshkosh farmers market signing autographs and saying hello to people. While I was at a table signing autographs a woman came up and asked me who the contestant was that talked about eating disorders. It was a total coincidence that she found me, but she did. We only talked for about five minutes, but she showed me her NEDA symbol tattoo (I have the same one) and thanked me for bringing attention to eating disorders. I signed an autograph for her, and she walked off. I had never had a stranger acknowledge the work I do, that’s not why I do it, and to this day it still brings tears to my eyes to remember that day.
14. How has your involvement influenced your life? Being involved with the Miss America Organization changed my life a lot more than I thought it would. One year ago, as a 17 year old girl still in high school, I thought I’d compete for a title, loose, and then go on with my everyday life. But here I am, one year later. I have learned so much by being involved with the MAO. I learned how to have an opinion and how to speak up for myself. I learned that what you have to say is always important and that if you have a story to share, share it. You never know whose life you’ll change. I also learned that you do not have to be the thinnest or the prettiest in order to win a pageant. As long as you believe you’re beautiful and have that confidence and inner beauty, anything is possible. My involvement with this organization also helped me recognize how much passion I have for eating disorder awareness and prevention, and is actually the reason I have decided to strive for New York and working for NEDA. I always knew I had that passion, but it was not until I got to do this that I realize how much meaning it brings to my life and that I’d love to do that every day for the rest of my life. This Miss America program taught me more in one year than some probably learn about themselves, or life, in a lifetime.
15. What advice would you give to fellow sisters, contestants, and young girls looking to one day compete for a title? Never give up! Although I won on my first try, I have friends that had to compete three or more times to get a crown! You will win that title when you need it most. I know I did. Also, always go with your gut. Whether you’re picking a gown, answering an on-stage question, or deciding what song to sing for your talent. Go with your gut. If you overthink every little thing, you will never be happy with a decision you make. And in the end, the dress you wear will not be the deciding factor for whether you walk away with a crown or not.