Julianna Corsi proves pageants are good for girls
I know what you think when someone mentions beauty pageants. You think, shallow!, as visions of girls wearing sparkly costumes and expertly applied makeup swaggering down the catwalk fill your head, right? I admit, I thought the same thing, and humbly admit, as I hang my head, that I was proven dead wrong when I had the pleasure of speaking with Gainesville native and USA Miss National Teen 2018 winner Julianna Corsi. Julianna educated me on all things pageant-related and why the endeavor is really a positive one for young women.
I could have spoken with Julianna, or Jules, as she’s called by friends and family, all day. At the age of 18, she is an eloquent, yet approachable and thoughtful speaker, with more interview experience than most adults. She is considering not one, but two career paths; will study abroad for her first semester at college; has had her writing published in a nationally released book; and has walked the runway at NY Fashion Week. Cleary, Jules is nowhere near shallow.
Julianna didn’t anticipate she’d go down this path. In the fifth grade she received a letter from National American Miss and didn’t have any interest, but later learned that a good friend participated and so enjoyed meeting girls outside Gainesville, and learning skills most kids don’t know about at that age, that her interest was piqued. When she received the letter again in the sixth grade, she gave it a go.
Over the next six years, Julianna competed in various pageants at the state and national level. In 2012, she won 2nd Runner Up, Preteen Division Virginia. Two years later, she won 4th Runner Up, Junior Teen Division Virginia. In 2016, she won the Virginia Teen Division, went on to the National competition in California and made the Top 10 in the United States. She also placed in three additional competitions: First Runner up: Most Promising Model, First Runner up: Runway Model, and Fourth Runner Up: Top Model. Last year, she competed at the USA National Miss pageant and won District of Columbia Teen. From there she traveled to Boca Raton for Nationals and placed Top 15 in the US and was named Supermodel 2017.
An enviable runway modeling career took off in 2017 when Julianna walked in both New York Fashion Week and DC Fashion Week. This past year, she competed at USA National Miss again as Old Dominion Teen in an appointed title after winning the Model of the Year contest. In July, she won the National Teen Title in Orlando and also won Supermodel 2018. She also won the Ashley Lauren Runway Modeling competition and walked for her this September in New York Fashion Week.
That’s a lot of trophies for sure, but awards aren’t the benefit of competing in pageants.
Both Julianna and her mom, Lisa, say that the greatest benefit of competing in pageants is the self-confidence it builds in young women. And the self-confidence lessons imparted aren’t merely about beauty, rather they help the girls understand who they are, discover their character, and teach them how to live authentically.
Lisa and Jules’ dad, Vincent, happily followed their daughter’s lead throughout the entire process, excited she’d be coached in public speaking and interviewing, lifelong skills that will help her in any situation. “It’s been an amazing journey watching Jules grow in these areas,” Lisa said. In addition to building confidence and coaching pageant participants in a variety of skills, pageants teach girls the importance of volunteer work and being active in their community.
In that vein, Julianna’s personal platform is called “Kindness is Power,” and one extension of it is her Kindness Book Club. Borne out of her sister’s career as a teacher, and the stories she shared with Julianna about the unkind situations she experienced with kids in her class, Julianna realized she had a platform on which to speak to others and teach what she’s learned along her journey. She hopes to continue with her platform even outside of the pageant circuit and has coined the hashtag #kindnessispower.
Sydney Hatcher, one of Julianna’s coaches said, “Julianna is a well-rounded young woman with a mature sense of who she is and the impact she can make on the world. Julianna’s future is bright, but she never allows that brightness to outshine the importance of her family and her heart-song. I look forward to watching Julianna continue to uplift and challenge every person she meets.”
Julianna’s pageant career helped her outline what her future will look like. She became interested journalism and when she had the opportunity to write a piece called “Breaking Stereotypes” for the book Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Pageantry by Jackie B. Watson, National Director for USA National Miss. Julianna’s passage details the realistic possibility of competing against others, while still maintaining your integrity and character, and forming a bond with others in the process. She also writes about the very topic of this article, breaking the negative stereotype of pageants and those who compete in them. She learned the former firsthand, when she developed a close bond with two fellow competitors from Florida and Texas. They became such good friends that they don’t go a day without speaking or texting.
Julianna will attend Boston University in January. She chose a track that begins by studying abroad in London and while she’s still undetermined about her major, whether it will be in journalism or meteorology, if you ask this writer, she’ll someday combine both beautifully.
Brains, beauty, eloquence, and kindness – an amazing combination of qualities that make up a remarkable young woman. Julianna Corsi is set to soar, breaking stereotypes as her future unfolds.