Beauty & Fashion

Beauty Queens Are Far From Just Pretty Faces

Brains, beauty, compassion – the contemporary image of a beauty queen has come a long way. Pageantry no longer requires you to sit down and look pretty! So, what can a "pageant girl" do to ensure they put on a successful event, get noticed, and grow from the experience? Read on and discover Otaymah Bonds' story!

You said you're the first Ms Detroit in history. Can you tell me more about this?
Otaymah Bonds: As far as I know I'm the first person to represent the city of Detroit and its surrounding areas in any pageant history, and to hold the title Ms Detroit. Most often delegates are pinned the name Miss or Ms michigan, but not Detroit specifically.

I'm extremely excited to hold this position because I get to let the world know just how great Detroit truly is! Detroit is a lot like pageantry in that it sometimes gets a negative image attached to it, but it really isn't bad. It's important to me to do community work in the Detroit metropolitan area so I can show everyone the beauty of Detroit and it's citizens.

Since I was born and raised in the city of Detroit, and went to college at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the city and the mitten(that's what is Michiganders call Michigan, due to its being shaped like a giant hand or mitten) in general hold a special place in my heart, and it's an honor to represent both!

Can you tell me about how your community service works? What is your typical day?
OB: Ms Bonds wholeheartedly believes in community service and giving back. She is the president of three service platforms within her community:

1. Superb Seniors-an outreach group for senior citizens,
2. Sunday's Hope-an organization working to end animal abuse,
and 3. Aunties Love-a big brother, big sister program for children with incarcerated parents.

Otaymah Bonds also frequently volunteers or has volunteered for various churches including but not limited to: Community Church of Christ, Greater St Matthews Baptist Church, Bailey Cathedral COGIC, St Peters Missionary Baptist Church, and the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. She has also done great community outreach with the University of Michigan, Hug Detroit, Yankee Museum/Rosie the Riveter Organization, Rosie the Riveter Association, Safehouse Domestic Violence Helpcenter, Southfield Jayhawks and PAL Cheerleading League, Detroit Unity in the Community, Fluffy Full and Fabulous Plus Size Women's Acceptance Organization, the Girl Scouts, Detroit Public Library, Jewish Vocational Service disabilities programs, Experiencia cultural tolerance programs, Natural Muse Agency, Focus Hope, Forgotten Harvest, and Eastern Market.

Otaymah has had the humble honor of receiving the Vanguard Award from Rosie the Riveter Organization “in recognition of her efforts on the front lines to promote awareness of the heroic contributions of African Americans in WWII”, Talent America outstanding vocal artist award, three Detroit Spirit Awards for enriching the Detroit community and being an outstanding leader within the community, the StarJewel Community Service queendom and award for donating and gathering a whopping 26 boxes and over 463 items at a charity pageant, the Vision Award for being “the most inspirational and uplifting person who truly means the love and energy she promotes… and touches the heart”, and the Mega Megaphone Award (PAL League/Southfield Jayhawks) for child volunteer work and excellence in coaching; she coached not one but two squads: Junior Varsity and Varsity and led them to place 2nd AND 3rd in states and nationals, respectively.

My typical day is exhausting. Lol! I get up serving the community in my business, and continue my day arcing the community in terms of volunteering. I typically wake early and finish my workday never, because I work for myself. Lol! In the midst of being a small business owner I usually volunteer at least four hours per day at any organization or for a cause.

Do you think that you have a responsibility to lead and use your talents to instigate change ?
OB: Not necessarily. I have no children so I really don't have a responsibility, per se. Thankfully, we are living in Day when it's becoming okay to be yourself and express yourself. Times are different from yesteryear, and those of us fighting for differences to be embraced are doing our work globally for this to be the case. The biggest part of me being me is giving and serving my community and the world at large. It is simply what I love doing. I feel as though it's what I've been called to do and it's important because if the world is to change, we as individuals must change it. THAT is what I feel is my responsibility. I'm not into just talking and complaining, I'm into instituting change. It's my thing.

We’ve all seen the stereotypical portrayals of pageant contestants, a la Miss Congeniality, spreading peace, love and beauty throughout the world. How do you think you'll make a difference ?
OB: Simply putting on my crown is an act of rebellion. Loving myself is an act of defiance. THAT is how I make a difference; by loving and enjoying the skin I'm in, my heritage, and teaching others to do the same.

What do you think about Contests like Miss Universe & Miss USA where it's only about physical appearance (& the community service almost doesn't exist)?
Community service almost always exists in pageantry; even if it is not widely discussed. All of us beauty queens do our work. We are far more than just pretty faces.
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