Beauty Therapy Life


Beauty Queen Bliss


I have to tell you what happened at this year’s Miss Virginia USA pageant….

I’m still fresh off my return flight from my old stomping grounds of Blacksburg, Virginia, where I was blessed to host the 2016 Miss Virginia USA and Miss Virginia Teen USA pageants. My 10th year hosting! Proof that a healthy relationship grows deeper with time, and carries with it the potential to deliver beyond expectation.

With days of rehearsals, loads of wardrobe prep and hours of mentoring young women to walk down a path I once strutted myself, I poured myself into an annual process that with each year brings me so much joy, nostalgia, and well, for the first time–a room full of teary eyes.

Before I tell you what happened. I want to flash back to last year’s pageant.

The last time I flew in to co-host and mentor the sweet contestants of Miss Virginia USA, I was a different human being. Do you ever take a moment to time travel to your earlier self? Even if just a month back, a week, even yesterday? I love doing that, to give myself a pretty pat on the back for the progress made, while also taking responsibility for some of the not-so-great habits I displayed once upon a time.

During last year’s pageant, I spent so much time carefully selecting my wardrobe, getting my hair and makeup seamless and making sure my image was…well, perfect. See the common theme there? ME. I barely had time to notice the fears, anxieties and worries of the lovely young ladies I was sent to mentor, the darling faces who were vying for a crown I am so honored to have been awarded in years’ past.

But this year….

…this year my focus was on something different. Not my wardrobe (in fact, I wore yoga pants and a baseball cap to rehearsals), not on whether my exterior image was up to par. This year my focus was on the girls and how I could be of service to them during their precious process.

After a group lunch one day, I had a moment to talk to the ladies. I opened up and revealed some personal stories about my own vulnerabilities. I told the room packed with gorgeous girls about my struggles to make ends meet early on in my career, about my turbulent ride towards self-love and acceptance and about my continuing struggle to accept myself and my own unique beauty. It wasn’t easy, but it felt amazing.

I wanted to break down the picture-perfect facade this time around. I wanted these ladies to have an all-access pass to my inner essence, something I’d never fully revealed in the pageant world. I was so passionate and raw and exposed. I caught a glimpse around the room mid-story and noticed eyes filled with tears. I couldn’t believe how touched these beautiful souls were.

I went on to praise the very system that had been the biggest stepping stone in my career, the Miss Universe Organization. I gave credit where credit was due. Not only to an organization, but to the people, the heartbeat of what makes the Miss Virginia USA pageant so different from all the rest. I shone the spotlight on the Executive Director, Kim Nicewonder, who once believed in me enough to let a young, scared and inexperienced 21-year-old host her show. Did I mention the show she entrusted me with airs live? That was 10 years ago. Not only did this woman believe in my talents then, she continues to shower me with endless love, support and an ongoing friendship that I will forever hold near to my heart.

There were handfuls of other powerful moments of genuine connection throughout the weekend — from several of the girls coming up to me individually asking for personal advice, to praying with the girls as a unified group on the final night of the competition prior to their dismissal to begin hair & make-up.  

The real show stopper came after the pageant.

After the new Miss Virginia USA and Miss Virginia Teen USA had been crowned, one of the contestants who had made the top 5 revealed that she believed in herself because of me.


Those words hit me so hard my eyes immediately filled with tears. My soul felt full. And my heart so deeply touched. To have left a mark on someone’s life with my own vulnerability was life-changing.

To be blessed with the handful of opportunities to give back to so many young women in the very arena where so much of my own beauty therapy came from was synchronous, and really magical.

Long after the lashes, hair extensions and perfectly beaded gowns have been taken off, these are the moments I cherish most. The moments that will live with me until the day I die. The moments that no one can predict, because they come from stepping out of a comfort zone of the seemingly “perfect.” That young girl may never know what her words and truth mean to me. While I may have encouraged her to believe in herself, she has encouraged me to keep fighting the good fight! To keep shouting Beauty Therapy from the rooftops.

I walked away from this year’s pageant with a renewed sense of purpose. A resolve to continue empowering women of all ages to connect to their deeply beautiful essence, beneath all the glitter and rose gold. And I’m so grateful to have you, my beauties, to share these touching tales with.  I truly hope they will continue to inspire YOU to step into more of your own internal, potentially life-altering beauty!

Shine on, beauties!



Enjoy my candid photo diary from the beautiful weekend 🙂























A special thank you to Proms, Pageants & Pretty Things, Henri’s Cloud Nine, Sherri Jessee, Rick Myers Photography, Kristel Wittensoldner, Michael Copon, Frank Beamer, Kimberly Nicewonder, KPJ Productions & the Miss Virginia USA Organization.


  1. Katelyn Calautti·December 14, 2016

    You’re such a good writer. I love reading your journey and leave inspired to always look deep within and be proud of where I’m at in life. Thank you, my love!

  2. Joni·December 14, 2016

    It’s make’s a mother’s heart so very proud to have a wonderful, talented, beautiful young lady I can call my precious daughter…..Miss Lauren Elizabeth I love you dearly…..💞💕💞

    • Ibtihaj Berbari Kanj·December 14, 2016

      Yes indeed Joni, I’m sure you’re so proud of your grown -up, talented, very mature and deep thinker and inspiring beautiful daughter!
      I enjoyed reading her blog tremendously and will follow up with her future writings to enjoy her thoughts and beautiful deeds in guiding, inspiring and making a positive change in other young women lives!
      God bless Lauren in her journey, we’re so proud of you and your accomplishments !👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻😘😘😘

  3. Julie Vega·December 14, 2016

    Great message. Great story.

  4. Madison Ramsey·December 14, 2016

    I loved this! I enjoy reading your blog so much. I absolutely love your message!! Beautifully written Lauren. Thank you!

  5. Tonya Hatfield·December 14, 2016

    Lauren, such a wonderfully written view of the journey of a true beauty. You have always been so much more than just a beauty on the outside!

  6. Kristel "kitty" Wittensoldner·December 14, 2016

    I love you Kitty!!! Your words have always resonated within my soul…it is because of you, and the moments we spent talking on the phone or sitting in my car in front of a hotel pouring out my fears, that I am where I am today. That is no lie!!

  7. Debra Townes·December 14, 2016

    Lauren, your words are an inspiration to EVERYONE. Your encouragement is true and pure. So proud of your willingness to bare your soul to these young ladies so they can see it’s not always glamorous but lots of hard work and determination, blood, sweat and tears. What I have ALWAYS admitted about you Lauren is you have never forgotten your roots. I love you sweet Lauren. Keep it going!!!

  8. Cameron·December 14, 2016

    So beautiful inside and out! You’ve definitely helped to shape me in more ways than one. I love reading this blog!

  9. Monica Osborne·December 14, 2016

    As a contestant, I count my lucky stars to have been able to spend the weekend with you! Virginia is such a lucky state.

    You literally inspire me each and every day. I hope to be have as successful as you are! Know that because you believed in me, I have became the confident young woman every knows.

    😉 Hope to see you soon!!

  10. Gale Fleming·December 14, 2016

    Lauren what a beautiful blog post. You are an incredible person, watching you grow up from the time you competed in Miss Virginia Teen USA until now and seeing how you always strive to be a mentor and role model to young ladies is always a breath of fresh air in the pageant world. You are an amazing host witty and funny I look forward every year to the pageant just to watch you sparkle!!! We are so blessed by you !

  11. Emily Stacy·December 14, 2016

    I’m very thankful for you Miss Lauren! You and Miss Joni helped me so much the year I did the pageant. I was a nervous wreck pre-lim night and I remember you coming up to me and saying “You’re fine. You’re ready for this.” After that, I really was fine and ready for that. I find myself still using things you taught me daily, especially for my pharmacy school interview. Thank you both so much!

    Hope you’re doing great!
    Hugs and love!

  12. Kim Crocker·December 14, 2016

    So blessed to have YOU and my Miss Va USA FAMILY in my life!! Not only did you have the girls in tears but I was over there sobbing too… haha. Love you!

  13. Cindy Robinette·December 14, 2016

    Beautifully written. Great role model for these young women starting a journey that you are still on. Me and Cami attended the pageant this year and you were beautiful, graceful and funny. You represent this organization to the fullest.

  14. Rachel Stacy·December 14, 2016

    THANK YOU so much for being such an inspiration to us all! <3

  15. Joni·December 14, 2016

    Just love this blog had to read it again … Amazing …!!!!

  16. Jenni Blevins Dingus·December 14, 2016

    It was so good to see you!! I wish we would have gotten a picture😓 You have blossomed into a very beautiful, talented, and successful person; although looks were never an issue for you. I am honored to say I knew you and watched you grow up before you became as successful as you are today! So along with that honor, now comes excitement when I get to see you😘Love you girl!!!!

  17. Sherry Rife·December 14, 2016

    Miss Lauren, I’ve watched you mature into such a beautiful intelligent woman. Your not that little girl who used to jump in my bed and want your back rubbed anymore. I love what you have written. A person can have it all, beauty, money, luxerious homes, but without a caring heart and humbleness we have nothing. And let’s not leave out God. The thing is if we have God in our life all the good qualities in a person will shine. We start caring about others and instead of thinking so much about ourselves. Love you sweetie.

  18. Linda Meade·December 15, 2016

    Hey Miss Lauren, you make me proud to say I know you. You have come a long way from the little girl that used to run from her mom when she tried to put that matching hairbow on top of your head. It warms my heart to read your words of encouragement to women of all ages. There is an obvious note of maturity and wisdom in your blog that makes it so appealing. May God bless you in this and all your endeavors. Love,

  19. Julie·December 19, 2016

    Wonderful insights to the world of beauty and glamour!!! Love the blog, Miss Lauren!!!! Love you!

  20. Courtney Oxford·June 2, 2017

    Hi Lauren! You’re mom introduced me to your blog and I love it so much! 💖 I am a pageant girl also and your mom is working with me for Miss Virginia this upcoming year!