I had the awesome opportunity to chat it up with Tanya Eldermire. Tanya is a young lady that basically started her pageant career in 2010 and since then she has went on and won many state national titles. She currently holds a very prestigious title called The National Woman of Achievement pageant title. In the past she has held the title of Miss Greater New York America. She has also competed in the Mrs. Mrs USA Petite Pageant by Hazely Corp. She literally won the petite pageant there. This lady she takes beauty to another level, her personality matches what she does and she is in the business of beauty in an ethical, honorable way. Check out my interview with Tanya below.

KJ: Tanya what made you decide that you wanted to be in the world of pageant?

Tanya: It was something that really kind of took me by surprise. I didn’t start in pageantry until I was 40 years old. And I started in the Mrs. division and really it was something that I didn’t think I could ever do because I was 40 years old and because I am not what people would imagine as a beauty queen. I learned a lot about the Mrs. division and how these women are mothers, they are wives, they are business women, they are philanthropists, they are doing so much in the community and they are just really powerful women. I realized that that was something I wanted to try and when I competed in my first Mrs. pageant at age 40 it was nothing like I had ever imagined, it was life changing because of what it did for me internally. It helped me to really just kind of find myself and really dig deep and realize who I was and who I wanted to present to the world and what I could offer to the world. I met such amazing accomplished women and it just took off from there and it just became something that I have been involved in for the past 6 years.

KJ: Wow! How has it changed your life Tanya?

Tanya: I feel that in pageantry I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what it is and why people are involved in pageantry. For me it wasn’t about necessarily winning on stage, winning a trophy or winning a title. It was about me identifying who I was and it shaped how I perceived myself and it made me really think about who I wanted to be, what my priorities are, what’s important to me and how I can make a difference. So as I started to continue to prepare myself for pageantry those were things that just really started to embed in me who I was and being able to make a difference through various platforms and various community services. It just really gave me a whole new perspective on life and what’s important and how I can make a difference. And that was something that was so important to me that I didn’t realize how much of a difference I could make. Being a title holder really showed that to me. It forced me to be the best me, the best Tanya Eldermire that I could possibly be and so it forced me to start to think about how can I improve, how can I empower other women. And it was this whole line of thinking that just elevated the pageantry.

KJ: Wow Tanya, that’s amazing. Let me ask you this, what did you do before? What was your line of work before you went into the pageant industry?

Tanya: Well I have actually been employed with a corporation for the past 24 years. Right out of college I started my career and I’ve been in various areas within that company from underwriting, claims, and most recently in human resources. So my full-time career is in human resources and so along with working full-time I also am a full-time title holder.

KJ: You have a very human relatable energy and I said to myself ‘she had to have done some sort of Counseling, Psychology, Human Resources ect. Are you a mom as well Tanya, may I ask?

Tanya: Yes. I have 2 stepsons aged 23 and 19.

KJ: Wow. So you are a full-time mom as well as full-time employed and full-time pageant holder.

Tanya: Absolutely

KJ: And wife because you have the Mrs as well.

Tanya: Yes, absolutely. It’s a lot on my plate, but every piece of it is so rewarding and I wouldn’t give up any piece.

KJ: You wouldn’t change it for the world. Let me ask you this Tanya, what are some of the challenges that you have experienced being in so many different pageants? What were some of the lows that you experience? Because, you know we want the good, the bad and the dirty, you know what I mean?

Tanya: Absolutely. That’s a great question because this current title that I hold as Mrs. Elite US Woman of Achievement. This pageant really felt like this was the right system for me because of some of those lows that I have experienced in pageantry. And what a lot of people don’t realize about pageantry is there are so many different systems to compete in and sometimes you have to find the right system for you and sometimes I’ve made choices where it wasn’t the right fit. So for example, one of the pageants and you had mentioned it earlier was the petite system and the petite system is geared towards women 5’6 and shorter and so when you are competing on a stage where there is no height requirement but you’re standing next to someone who is 6 feet tall and you’re 5’2. Sometimes that can leave an impression with the judges negatively. What I’ve realized is to think about what my purpose is, what’s the purpose and mission of the pageant system and what’s their focus and how can I be the best title holder for that system and so what’s the best fit for me. So I’ve been in pageants where there was a fitness portion where swimsuit was involved and as someone who is 46 years old, as we get older it’s harder to maintain a certain physique that usually does well in some pageants. And so knowing as you mentioned being a full-time wife and full-time employee and mom, I don’t have as much time to be in the gym, I don’t have as much time to meal prep. So some of those things when I realized I’ve done the best that I can do for myself and this is the best that I will look that’s healthy for me and my body frame, but if that’s not viewed as what that particular system is looking for, those were some moments when you have to take that critique and that feedback that it’s disappointing sometimes. But there are some systems like Women of Achievement where yes, it’s important to be healthy and that’s the focus, the focus is on being healthy for you and being confident in your own skin. So some of those low points were getting some feedback that I either wasn’t expecting or that wasn’t as encouraging as I would have like it to be. But it actually made me stronger, and it actually made me a better person because it made me think about how do I take this feedback and how do I turn this into a positive to make me a better person.

KJ: That’s very powerful information. Even working the industry like I do people do not even understand when they just hear I’m a model. Well what kind of model are you? Runway model where you have to be 5’9 and up? Are you a print model? Are you a commercial model? What kind of model are you? Are you a foot model? When I hear women say ‘oh, I’m only 5 feet and there’s nothing out there for me’ it makes me cringe because, I’m 4’11 and 1/2 actually and there is plenty for us to go out there and do; there’s plenty.

So I think that you explaining this in a reality sense, not only from the glamour perspective which you do have, you have the glitz and the glamour but at the same time you are looking at the purpose of the pageant and how that fits into your life, your beliefs and how is it going to strengthen you as well as looking at the criterion and if you can really fulfill those criteria. What advice Tanya would you give a young woman that is thinking about going into the beauty world such as you have?

Tanya: The first thing that I think is important is for that person who is thinking about not just going into the beauty industry but really going into anything is really to identify what’s your goal. What are you hoping to achieve and what are your priorities? And once you can nail that down and really identify what that is, it’s about staying true to that goal, that mission, that purpose and staying focused. I really believe that a lot of what you feel is important to you is what you need to stay true to but also realizing that you may not always achieve that goal on the first try. And sometimes you have to take a detour or you may find that the way that you thought you would achieve that goal may not be the way, but to really just think about what are my options and how do I get there and it maybe a journey.

KJ: Wow! Now Tanya, can you give us a little bit of the pieces that you were excited about in being a part of this pageant that you recently won? That’s a huge deal and you had mentioned before that this pageant had (the National Woman of Achievement) that they had factors and these…we are powerful women.

Tanya: Absolutely. So with this pageant there was a panel interview with very distinguished panel of judges. One of the judges for example was an author, a lawyer. The questions that were asked in the personal interview were really strong questions with substance that really I could tell that these judges really took this job of selecting the right person for this opportunity very, very seriously. That was one aspect that I really just walked away with and felt really good about. The other aspect of this pageant is that you have a separate opportunity and a separate interview just to speak on your platform. so we had 6 minutes to talk just about our platform, talk about what we have done with our platform but also to build a display highlighting various articles or items or pictures, which is very different than any other pageant. The other piece that I felt was a huge piece that really drew me to this system was not only were you competing at a pageant but within the pageant there were workshops and networking events where we had speakers that were talking about empowering women and self-improvement. Those were things that no matter what happened I could take away and really just be able to use those tools in my everyday life and to continue to build what I feel are things that I may have needed to work on. So a lot of enriching experiences throughout that. And finally, just the women. The women that chose this pageant and chose to compete in this pageant were very distinguished, very accomplished women, but not only that, extremely supportive. And it was such an honor to stand on that stage with so many of those women and to feel the love and support from women that I just met that weekend, and I know that we’ll remain in touch. I’ve already been in touch with a lot of them through social media and phone calls and texts and so. It was just an amazing experience and this is just the beginning.

KJ: Tanya, that’s truly amazing. It sounds like the experience was personal development journey in and of itself. It really helped you dig within who you are as a person, who you wanted to be, and how you wanted to show up in life, and how you wanted to affect those around you in a positive way and display that along with the beauty aspect of it which is completion of an entire unit. That’s what I got from your brand.

Tanya: Absolutely. And this pageant really focused on women being able to network, women who they wanted to recognize for just the outstanding work that they had done — whether it be in their career, in their homes, in their communities, and just continuing to give them that opportunity and they uplifted us through that whole journey. So it was just an incredible experience, I feel so honored to be able to hold this title.

KJ: What last minute things do you want to share? Any words of wisdom?

Tanya: Words of wisdom. I could say that if I can do this, anyone can do this. It’s about believing in yourself, believing that if something doesn’t go the way you expected it to, there is a reason for that, it’s all part of the journey. But to stay vigilant, to stay on course and to think about what your priorities are, what your goals are and stick with it, reach out, network, lean on others that may be able to support you and just go for it. You will never know unless you go for it. One of the things that I always tell myself is ‘if you don’t try you will never know and one of the things that I believe in life is that I never want to live with regret and that’s why I just go for it. And in terms of being able to get a hold of me, I am very active on social media. So I have a Facebook page which is 2017 Mrs. Elite US Woman Achievement Tanya Eldemire. I am definitely available through any of those forms of media for questions, for bookings, for speaking engagements and anything else that you feel may help you to achieve your goals.

You can also listen to our interview on http://iheart.

Originally published at medium.com