Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Mrs., Miss & Miss Teen International People's Choice Awards

News from International Pageants, Inc.:

We are very excited to introduce the 2015 Mrs., Miss & Miss Teen International People's Choice Awards! Voting will kick off today for this important award in each division.

The winner of the 2015 Mrs. International People's Choice Award will secure the Top 16th spot and move on to compete for the title of Mrs. International.

The winners of both the 2015 Miss International People's Choice Award & the 2015 Miss Teen International People's Choice Award will secure the Top 11th spot in their respective divisions and move on to compete for the titles of Miss International & Miss Teen International.

The Mrs. International People's Choice Award will be awarded to the contestant with the most votes by Saturday, July 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT.

The Miss International People's Choice Award and Miss Teen International People;s Choice Award will we be awarded to the contestant in each division with the most votes by Saturday, August 1, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT.

There will be a sidebar button beside each contestant photo for the People's Choice Award. Each vote is $2.00, with a minimum of 5 votes required.

The voting for the People's Choice Award is separate from the Online Voting which benefits Go Red for Women.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Road Less Traveled

As I wrapped up my high school career, I reflected on the past four years and the decisions I made. More than ever I have realized that my involvement in pageantry is one of the best things that could have ever happened to me!

Pageants encouraged me to be myself, to stand up for what I believe in, and to not base my self worth on what others thought of me. Being a titleholder has allowed me to hold myself to an extremely high standard and to make decisions that I will be very proud of.

However, none of this is easy to do. It almost always require taking the road that is less traveled. This can definitely be lonely at times. Some will respect you for the decisions you make to stay above the influence and avoid the senseless drama for example, but many will dislike you for it. Just remember that you ALWAYS have a strong support system in your International Pageant sisters.

During my interview at Miss Teen International last year, one of the judges asked me, “Who is a good teen role model in the media?” I couldn't think of a single person that really set a positive example for me, and I told her that. I followed by telling her that this is why teen queens are so vital in today’s society. We need to use the crown to make the world around us a better place by being a role model to those we encounter.

Was I the most popular in high school? No. Did I attend lots of parties? Definitely not. Did I get bullied for my decisions? Yes. Did I leave high school knowing I served in my community, did the right thing, and strived for excellence? Absolutely, and I don’t regret it at all.

I know it is tempting to feel that you have to be accepted and liked by all. Most teenage girls feel so much pressure by society to conform to the norm, but there is a much greater joy in taking the right path and doing the right thing.

For all of my teen queen sisters that are still on their high school journey, just remember that choosing a path not taken by many can be so incredibly rewarding. You all are doing phenomenal things in your communities and states, and I believe that’s way better than “fitting in” and being “popular.” Strive for excellence ALWAYS, and don’t be afraid to be different!

If you believe in something, believe in it all the way!

Blair Wortsmith
Miss Teen International 2014

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Spending Perspective of Pageants

I will start right out of the gate and note this is not a blog advocating for anyone to go into debt.
When looking at competing in a pageant, there are many cost comparatives to keep in mind, and it is important to take a step back to look at the entire perspective. Try looking at the journey beyond one year, two years, etc.  To our family, the International pageants journey was always our whole life up to this point of getting ready, and something that is our whole life beyond as well.
I’ve always felt whoever was crowned represents the legacy forever figuratively, not just one year. Before competing, thoughts swirled of what could I do to carry that on, and as the year has passed, that still lingers in my mind.
When a business decides to make a significant investment with an expectation of a return at some point, if they are smart it’s not a shotgun decision, they consult trusted advisors, put the scenarios on paper and look at it from all angles. If they want other investors to “buy in” as well, they expect to see a return also. We applied these principles to our International Pageants journey and met with advisors, even including other married couples who had kids and held high ambitions to see if most importantly family wise this was good for our kids future, not just ours.

We definitely had people who doubted our decision to be a part of a “pageant” as different stigmas surround it. What people do not understand, they fear. Their own insecurities can turn in to fear as well, which in turn they will impress upon others. Here are a few facts to share with any “doubters” you may have in your life, because I 100% believe in the International Pageant system and if you allow it to, being a part of a pageant will shape your life for the better in the future and make you one of the most marketable people on the planet with job skills for any endeavor you pursue.
Remark faced:
“But Pageants are SO expensive!”
Comments back:
  • Did you know a dedicated golfer can spend up to $72,000 on a set of clubs alone? That is just for a hobby
  • The average person who becomes a physician can accumulate up to $166,750 in debt taking between 11 and 14 years of higher education to become a physician!
  • The average cost of running for congress has reached up to $3,000,000 !
  • On average, a political science degree costs $37,000 to $48,000 PER YEAR, for a communications, marketing or public relations degree the average cost is set at an average of $15,000 and $25,000, with some even higher By way of experience, you will walk away with skills from over 3 different degrees (and more I’m sure), on average those degrees total more than $100,000 (so you save money and with a “degree” and position, only the courageous will have)
  • The average Masters Degree can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $150,000 and the return on investment can take your whole life. In pageants if you plan ahead at when you want the return, it can be immediate
  • We make an investment to make a difference. This is not a vacation or dress up, but dressing for success in the opportunity of a lifetime with global change possible
Skills you can gain:
  • How to be a public figure
  • Media Interview
  • Writing
  • Social Media
  • Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Poise
  • Manners
  • Political skills
  • Community Relations
  • Public Service
  • Event Management
With these skills, there are a variety of positions you could pursue with one of the most competitive resumes out there! Your network triples, it not quadruples through pageantry.
So, the real question is, why wouldn’t you compete in a pageant? The benefits are of numerous, with the biggest benefit of all…you will walk away with friends for life. Each time someone asks me my favorite memory from the year, it gets harder and harder because I absolutely adore meeting everyone. The friendships from this are unreal with women in my life who have goals, ambitions, dream and drive. Never let a non-dreamer who is to scared too take their feet off the ground and learn to fly to pull you down from the best decision you will ever make!
Recently our son Charlie wrote a poem for his 2nd grade end of the year work. When I saw it, tears rolled down from my face because it has not just been me who’s life had been changed, but certainly our children’s.

Information used in this blog from:
Live What you Love,

Your Mrs. International 2014   

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Saying Goodbye

As many of you know, I've been competing in pageantry for the last 9 years of my life. My first pageant ever was in the International system, so it only seems fitting that my last pageant be one too! While pageantry has been an extremely important part of my life and I'll be sad to no longer be competing, I have accomplished exactly what I have set out to.

I proved that anyone can be Miss International with hard work and dedication. Many people look at me and see a beauty queen, but they don't see the years of work I've dedicated to working on myself and my community service and being comfortable I my own skin. I am a completely different girl than the one who embarked on this journey what feels like a lifetime ago. I had so many people tell me I was wasting my time, I wasn't skinny enough, I wasn't pretty enough, I didn't have the right walk, I didn't speak onstage the right way, I was too shy, too outgoing, blah blah blah. I could have given you any excuse in the book to quit competing and no one would have questioned me. I LOST every single pageant I competed in for 6 consecutive years.

I was told by many girls "I knew you were going to win" last year, which was so funny to me, because I have never been a "front runner" in a pageant in my life. I had so much competition last year, I was just praying to make top 5! Of course I wanted to win, but I knew I was competing against some of the most amazing and beautiful girls in the world.

While my journey wasn't an easy one, I had to face my demons and deal with some very heavy emotional issues regarding the loss of my father before I even stepped foot onto the stage last year. I knew I needed to work through my own struggles before I would be able to help anyone else with theirs. I needed to be able to leave it all on that stage for the judges to see.

I honestly want to cry thinking about the fact that my journey is over. I believe so much in this system and really wish I could keep my title! Whenever I run into people who are unfamiliar with pageantry, they always ask me if I can "defend" my title and compete again. Haha I WISH! While I may not be able to be the "reigning" Miss International forever, I will always be Miss International 2014. A year of my life that I will never forget.

I often hear girls talk about growth and how much they learned during their year, and boy can I say how true that is! I learned so much about myself this year, it was truly the most fascinating year of my life. I will absolutely be back one day as a Mrs. contestant! Watch out married ladies!!!!

As I sit to write my farewell letter and program book speech, I am humbled by all of the support I have received this year from friends, family, coaches, and sponsors. You have all helped me become so much more than just "a pretty face." I hope you all take the time to read my farewell letter in the program book, I have put my heart and soul into it.

Ignite your spark,

Samantha Riddle
Miss International 2014

Monday, June 22, 2015

Goodbye, High School!

It’s hard to believe I just finished my final year of high school!

The high school I attended is a little different than most! Little Rock Central High School was the first in the nation to integrate during the Civil Rights Movement, and it is now a National Historical Site. People travel from all over the United States to tour my school, and students even learn about the school in US History classes!

There were so many people that made a tremendous impact on my high school career. A quick thank you to my parents, sisters, principal, guidance counselor, amazing teachers, and friends that motivated me, pushed me, and guided me to success.

I graduated with over 600 students, so it was a tremendous privilege to graduate with honors for my participation in Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, and National Honors Society. The event is so big that the ceremony is held at an arena!

My school hosts an event after the ceremony called Project Graduation. The entire senior class went to Playtime Pizza from 10 PM to 2 AM to play games, eat pizza, and enjoy our last few hours together! Some of my friends and I won tons of tickets; it was a blast!

It is bittersweet officially saying bye to high school, but I can’t wait to see what the future holds as I begin my college career at the University of Mississippi in the fall!

If you believe in something, believe in it all the way!

Blair Wortsmith
Miss Teen International 2014

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Giving Shoes and Love in Jacksonville

One of my absolutely FAVORITE things to do on a Soles4Souls trip is decorating the shoes for the kids we distribute them to….and now Soles4Souls and I are inviting YOU to decorate a pair that we will provide at orientation in Jacksonville.

What to decorate them with? Metallic sharpies work amazing, stickers, ribbons, rhinestones, you name it. They still need to be wearable for the children and they will be distributed to boys and girls in Jacksonville.

Below are some pictures from previous trips of the shoe decorating to give you some ideas ☺

Looking forward to all of my sister queens helping to decorate shoes to help wear out poverty!

Live What you Love,

Your Mrs. International 2014


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Your Platform Statement

If you are lucky enough to make the top 10 at nationals, the first thing you will compete in is Onstage Question! Remember that this is now 40% of your score on finals nights! This can make or break you! While I have already harped on the importance of actually answering the question you are asked, I wanted to take some time to discuss your platform statement.

The pageant host will give you 30 seconds to recite your platform statement in front of the audience before asking you your actual question. You are judges on your delivery, content, and overall impression on both answers. You should practice your 30 second speech with a stopwatch until you know that you can deliver it without going over. Remember that the stress and nerves of that night can make you speak faster or slower. So, please do take that into consideration.

When referring to your “platform” onstage, please use the name of your platform, do not say my “platform” It sounds disconnected and impersonal. In those 30 seconds you want to get across :
  1. Why You choose your platform
  2. What is your platform
  3. What are you doing for your platform
I know a lot of ladies also like to plug in what they will do with the crown if they are to win, while I don’t mind this, I didn’t add it to mine, I knew the next question would be about if I won, So I knew I could plug in my plan there.

While statistics are catchy and nice, be mindful of your time. A judge would much rather hear about your personal connection to a cause then a list of statistics. Be sure to have an ending sentence that ties everything together and lets the host know that you are finished! You will get time to practice this once onstage during rehearsals. I suggest you use that time to your advantage!

Ignite your spark!

Samantha Riddle
Miss International 2014

What Should I Wear?

The question above could very likely be a question many of you have! Our fabulous Mrs. International and Miss International have both shared their take on wardrobe for the International Pageants, so I thought I’d post what I wore last year, specifically for the teens.


This is the first impression that your fellow contestants as well as the Int’l Pageant staff will have of you. Make it a good one! I chose to wear a white pantsuit, but anything business professional is a great choice.

Day Out in Jacksonville:

This is not the time to show off your highest pair of heels! Comfortable wedges or a change of shoes (flats) is a must. A cutesy dress or stylish outfit are both appropriate choices for this busy day.

Group Photo Night:

Keep in mind that the judges will be selecting the photogenic winner based on the photos taken throughout the week, especially from this night. I opted for a long gown but high lows/cocktails are also appropriate. You will be going across the street to the Times Union Center for the photo, and the long train on my gown was a little difficult for this walk!


I definitely recommend dressing to impress, but also keep in mind that you are rehearsing and should feel comfortable! Here is one of my rehearsal looks.

After Teen Prelims:

My friends and family wanted to take pictures with me after the show on Thursday night, so I made sure to bring a stylish outfit that would look good in Facebook and Instagram pictures posted by my loved ones!

Miss Prelims:

Long or short dresses are both appropriate. I’d recommend a long dress (even though that isn't what I had on) because that’s more commonly worn and because it is easier to sit down in a long gown! However, if you want to wear a short dress, rock it like I did!

Judges’ Rehearsal:

Later in the week the judges will be attending a rehearsal, so I suggest looking your best so you feel your best! Something that flatters you and makes a strong statement is a must.

It is important to maintain your personal style and dress boldly while also keeping in mind if the outfit is appropriate for the occasion. Competitive Image has pieces that are perfect for these events; don’t miss out! I am excited to see the fabulous wardrobe choices in just a couple of months!

If you believe in something, believe in it all the way!

Blair Wortsmith

Miss Teen International 2014

Monday, June 15, 2015

What’s on your Tombstone? Part 2 – Let There Be Light!

What if I had died in a car accident on my way to Pittsburgh? There are any number of circumstances that I could have already left this earth, and do think often if headed in the direction of purpose. We are all given purpose, it is whether or not we listen to it, then act on it. A few years ago before deciding to try for Mrs. International vs continue catapulting up in the career world, the realization struck I didn’t want my Tombstone to say “ Here lies Maggi Thorne, she built a lot of buildings and had an amazing career” Where did my family fit in to that? What about friends, what about others who are hurting? The feeling began that all of the skills I’ve been entrusted with were in no short order of words going to waste.

It was an utter and complete crossroads in life, and in a way where there was no turning back once a path was chosen. Definitely an all in kind of deal of heart, soul, mind, effort, resources….everything. Both would require sacrifice, but each of different kinds. It was choosing one or the other and that was it, knowing down each path there was additional paths in the future. The paths in the future required faith and trust once choosing a road. Each leading to different tombstones. Some of us are halfway there already, some maybe even 80% and we don’t even know it….the reality, one of us could be 95% there, to our tombstone.

Why would you ever wait once more second to live the life you want? What are you waiting for? The time is now, it WILL happen, you just have to believe it will. I refuse to live the rest of my life “easy”, what crop will be bear a harvest from soil that is never burned and toiled?

People will not agree with your path. There will be critics, pessimists, doubters, but at the end of the day, the legacy you live out is yours, not theirs. The moment when it happens, when the perseverance and sacrifice culminate to a moment better than we could have ever imagined, it is beautiful. Tears shed, hurt felt, loss’s experienced, all fade away.

I’m not sure I can ever even fully put into words this moment when my name was called as Mrs. International 2014. Truly something so special and I am forever grateful for.

The experiences of traveling the world as Mrs. International has definitely changed my tombstone and my family and I are living the lives we desire to live of serving others, sacrifice, joy.

What will your Tomsbtone say? At a crossroads? Let there be light and persevere to what YOU know your calling is. Press on.

Live What you Love,

Your Mrs. International 2014


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Packing for Jacksonville

Traveling has become increasingly more expensive over the last few years, I can still remember when most airlines checked your luggage for free and gave out complimentary meals. Most of you are coming to Jacksonville for over a week (attending Mrs. Finals) so you will have a lot of luggage. Last year I brought 6 bags! (Side note- I roomed with one of my coaches and Miss Texas International, so imagine the size of the taxi we needed to fit all of our bags!)

It is a rule of thumb in pageantry to take all of your competition wardrobe on as a carry-on, no matter the size; even those big ball gowns! What would happen if your luggage was lost before competition? (It has happened, in fact, I think it happened last year to a Mrs. Contestant)

I then designated a bag just for shoes, I recommend if possible, to bring shoes that can go with a multitude of outfits so that you don't have to bring that many! My next bag was just for jewelry, and it was a hard case suitcase and each piece was wrapped in bubble wrap! The last thing you need is a broken Stefanie Somers earring! (Although, if this does happen, I am quite handy with crazy glue, so feel free to come to me with emergencies!)

It is important to distribute weight evenly, so I put my heavy autograph cards in with lightweight items, such as pajamas, undergarments, hair extensions, and donations for the PACE CENTER. Depending on how long your flight is, you might want to have your makeup and a change of clothes to freshen up before your "arrival" at the hotel. Paula Preston does a fantastic job of capturing these moments, so you'll want to look nice. Who knows? You might even run into a judge!

You'll want to make good use of the space in the hotel room, call in advance if you need a steamer or extra hangers! My roomie last year bought sticky hooks that she hung all of her dresses up by! It was such a great idea! When she was done, she just peeled the hooks off the wall with zero damage! Remember to steam all of your dresses in your room prior to bringing them backstage and don't forget to bring your makeup and hair tools in your backstage kit if you are doing your own hair and makeup, if you have singed up with Thomas Dunn studios, you have nothing to worry about, they have everything to touch you up in their hair and makeup room backstage!

Another side note for backstage- if at all possible, keep your stuff as neat as you can, you will not be able to leave your stuff overnight, so it's easier and faster to pack up if you stay organized! You should also label everything with your name or title, I used garment bags that I had embroidered with my name last year so that my stuff wouldn't get confused with anyone else's!

Ignite your spark,

Samantha Riddle
Miss International 2014

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Learning Experiences

As some of you may know, my sisters were recently robbed at gunpoint. They were going to the gas station one night to get a slushy. When Madison got out of the car, Payton saw two men approaching them. She urged Madison to get back in the car, but it was too late. Two robbers demanded their wallets with a gun pointed to my sister’s head and ran off after they got what they wanted.

My mom said something to us all that really stuck with me. She said, “If this isn't a learning experience for us then all it will be ever is a bad experience.” There are lots of bad things that happen to people- that’s just life. But what we make of the unexpected, hard times is what really matters.

They were interviewed on multiple local news stations, and I truly believe that people will look at this horrible situation and learn to be more cautious and aware of their surroundings. Check out my Facebook page for the video of one of the interviews. Thank you to everyone for the prayers and love sent to my family!

Next time life presents you with a bad situation, learn from it and let it make you a better person. I am proud of my sisters for being so brave and becoming stronger after this hardship!

If you believe in something, believe in it all the way!

Blair Wortsmith
Miss Teen International 2014

Saturday, June 6, 2015

What’s on your Tombstone? Part 1 - Peter

For those of you that are old enough to remember the phrase “What do you want on your Tombstone”, this is not the pizza ad.

With the lighthearted start, it is time to take a turn in the other direction.

Recently we have buried a family member on Fred’s side, and a friend. One by their own choice, and the other killed by a drunk driver. I suppose getting older includes burying more friends and family as time passes, but it doesn’t make the losses any easier.

Less than a week ago I attended the funeral of someone who was not just a former co-worker, but we coached soccer camps together, talked life, our families and faith.

Peter Underwood was 31 years old, it was around 7am on a Saturday morning and the drunk driver entered a freeway ramp the wrong way hitting and killing Peter upon impact as he was driving. The drunk driver survived and is fine. One man killed, a man who has impacted literally thousands of lives around the world, with two children 2 years old and younger, a woman now a widow and a community in morning. It can hard to make sense of it, and I am sure many will ponder losing such an innocent wonderful person for many years, especially when those two young kids realize daddy will never again come home. That is what struck me the most, the kids never really knowing their daddy.

We had just finished the Race4Souls and was supposed to immediately leave to drive the 14 hours to Pittsburgh for American Ninja Warrior. As I got in my car heading towards the freeway, in every sense it felt like just going in the wrong direction. Trying to shrug it off, I kept driving for a little bit until the feeling was so overwhelming it could no longer be ignored. For the first time, turning away from a major endeavor and heading home, sitting that night with my family entangled in my arms felt like the best place in the world to be. Three days later sitting in a chair at Peter’s funeral watching his kids stumble around at the as their dad lay inside the enclosed casket, tears rolled from many people’s eyes before anything even started.

Person by person, they got up and shared about Peter, who he was to them and how much the world is a better place by his time on earth. It reminded me of attending a women’s leader luncheon a couple years ago and each of us had to write what we would want our Tombstone to say.

Peter’s Tombstone?

Peter J. Underwood

November 24, 1983 - May 16th, 2015

Loving husband, father and friend.

A man of faith lived out by his actions to others.

Goodbye Peter.

Live What you Love,

Your Mrs. International 2014