Beauty that extends to the soul |

Beauty that extends to the soul

Erin MacGregor won the Miss Colorado USA pageant. She won the night gown competition on the way to her title. She now competes in the Miss USA Pageant.

Vail native Erin MacGregor has won her second Miss Colorado title in three years, taking the Miss Colorado USA title earlier this month. That title goes with the Miss Colorado America she won in 1999, representing the state in the 2000 Miss America competition.

MacGregor is only the fourth woman in Colorado history to win both titles. During her year as Miss Colorado USA, she will travel the state promoting education volunteerism.

MacGregor, 26, has been working at pageants for 10 years. She says she views them as a means to an educational end.

“When I was 16, I did my first pageant, Miss Teen USA,” she says. “I saw it as a means to a college scholarship, and that’s how it worked out.”

She entered the Miss Colorado USA competition seven times in 10 years.

“It was a work in progress,” she says.

When she wasn’t competing in that, she was winning the Miss Colorado title in the Miss America program. That 1999 win earned her $10,000 in scholarships and helped her pay for her education at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology.

The $32,000 prize package she earned for winning the Miss Colorado USA competition includes full tuition to Johnson and Wales University, where she plans to earn her MBA.

More than meets the eye

It takes a certain set of attributes to be successful in the pageant universe. Obviously, you have to be lucky enough to be born beautiful, but that’s not nearly enough. You also have to have a nimble intellect and be eloquent on demand.

“It doesn’t really compare to modeling, and I’m not a runway person – and none of the other successful contestants are, either,” says MacGregor. “I’m a person who speaks on issues. They’re looking for someone who’s cognizant of a of wide variety of issues and can speak to them in front of all kinds of audiences and under all kinds of conditions.

“I know a lot of pretty faces who can’t do that,” she adds.

When the planets align in your favor and you’re lucky enough to be born looking like your beautiful mother, you sometimes hear enough silly people asking you questions like, “Hey darlin’, how’d you like to go for a ride with me and my dog. I just had my truck washed.”

It goes with the territory, and it’s not that tough to handle, says MacGregor.

When you represent Colorado in competitions like Miss USA and Miss America, however, you sometimes get hammered by people shrieking that you’re minimizing women. But you deal with that the same way, she says.

“I handle it by taking the stereotypical views of pageants people have and tossing them out the window,” says MacGregor. “Part of being a successful title-holder is being able to handle any situation you’re thrown into.”

As Miss Colorado USA, MacGregor is concentrating on raising awareness about breast and ovarian cancer, as well as education.

“Where else can you have a young woman voice on national platforms such as that?” says MacGregor. “For a young woman 18-26 (the age range for Miss USA contestants), this is one avenue to have that voice.”

MacGregor has flexing her voice since long before the pageant titles. She works as the Community Relations Coordinator for Goodwill Industries’ School to Work Program. And in September, she established the Queen For A Day-Denver Program, which benefits pediatric cancer patients. The program will hold its first fund-raiser in February, in conjunction with MacGregor’s send-off party to Miss USA.

“I speak to students and I have some credibility about education; making them understand that education is vital and volunteerism is an important part of it,” says MacGregor.

Part pizzazz

Pageants are part intellect, part poise and part pizzazz. All kinds of tricks are found in all sorts of entertainment venues, and the pageants are no exception.

A tried-and-true trick is spraying Firm Grip on your butt to keep your swimsuit from riding up during the swimsuit competition.

“We want the judges looking at our smiles and our faces,” MacGregor said patiently. “We don’t want them looking somewhere they shouldn’t be looking.”

Everything that goes on behind the scenes in preparing for a musical or even an athletic event also goes on as contestants prepare for a pageant, MacGregor says.

“If you’ve prepared properly, by the time you walk out on stage the hard work is over,” she says. “That’s the time to relax and enjoy yourself.”

The Miss USA national competition is set for spring 2003. NBC bought the broadcast rights but has not yet announced where and when the competition will be held.

MacGregor is the daughter of Patsy Strale-MacGregor of Avon and Gordon MacGregor of Phoenix.

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