Thursday, December 03, 2009
A Courageous Beauty Interview: Mrs. Christian International 2007-Maryann DeFrances
Angie: How did you learn about this pageant?
was invited to compete by Barbara and Sable Butler via an e-mail invite.
Angie: What titles have you held?
Maryann: Mrs. Warren County, NJ 2005, Mrs. Christian International 2007 and I won the Companionship Award at Mrs. New Jersey America in 2008.
Angie: What is your platform?
Maryann: Accepting our flaws and becoming great in spite of them!
Angie: How did you build your platform and promote your work?
Maryann: Realizing some of my own personal weaknesses and how they kept me from achieving all that God had for me inspired me to start an intense bible study on the subject of self-doubt. I read Joyce Meyer’s books on “The Battlefield of the Mind” and putting into practice everything I learned inspired me to teach my wealth of knowledge and practical experience to other women struggling in the same way.
Angie: I think it's wonderful to use personal experience to help others. Why did you decide to compete?
Maryann: I love the Christian pageants because I’m able to speak freely about my belief in and love for God; which gives me the chance to showcase the real me (inside and out). No swimsuit competition!!!!!!
Angie: What kept you competing?
Maryann: My last pageant was in 2008. I believed in my platform and felt the need to teach women/girls and even boys how to accept themselves in spite of their flaws in order to become everything they are meant to be.
Angie: Was/is competition scary?
Maryann: It’s not so scary when you have the opportunity to really be yourself and talk about ALL of your beliefs…however, you run the risk of the judges “not getting” who you really are on the inside.
Angie: What personal fears did you have to overcome?
Maryann: When I was 10 years old I entered the Little Miss America pageant… absolutely terrified! When I got on stage I just crumbled and did not complete every requirement asked of me due to fear and just walked off the stage shaking! I beat myself up for years over that….extremely disappointed in my performance….and I was only 10 years old! So, I’ve done pageants as a woman to finally prove to myself that I can do anything afraid. Even though I feel the fear, I don’t have to fall apart…I can do it afraid and still do it well!
Angie: That's the true definition of courage, to do what you fear in spite of the fear itself. Congratulations! What did you have to learn to compete?
Maryann: The basics, such as how to properly interview, how to do the “pageant walk”, how to dress in a fashion that is flattering to my body type and most importantly…how to be myself no matter what the judges think of me.
Angie: Tell us about what you were able to do with your titles:
Maryann: Visit children’s hospitals to bring toys to the kids who were ill; actually volunteered as a titleholder to visit malls and ask for donations to purchase gifts for these kids, counsel girls/women who experience an unexpected pregnancy (Peer Counselor), volunteered at various churches handing out food to the needy and became a Big Sister to a teen girl in my neighborhood.
Angie: Please tell us about a dream, why it's been a goal, and what it means to you?
Maryann: Having worked in Corporate America for 10 years proved to be unfulfilling and I felt as if I was not making a difference in this world or anyone else’s individual life.
My dearest innate desire is to be a blessing to as many people as possible in this lifetime. As a result, I’ve been accepted into Nursing School and dream of becoming a full-time nurse in the near future!
Angie: What do you still want to achieve?
Maryann: Telling as many people about God as possible and having the opportunity to love others via my upcoming nursing career. And, of course, continue to become the best wife and mother possible!
Angie: Do you believe you can achieve it?
Maryann: I believe the nursing dream is God-given. All it takes is money…which I’m also trusting God for.
Angie: Why or why not?
Maryann: If a desire is truly God-given, He will equip anyone to accomplish the task He has for them. It’s not always an easy road…many times he grows us (sometimes painfully along the way). However, we become a true blessing to others as a result and He continues to change us more and more into His image as a result.
Angie: What tips would you give other women wanting to enter the pageant world?
Maryann: Honestly, It’s not for everyone…However if you’re going to try competing, a girl/woman must be comfortable in her own skin and remember that whatever the results, these are just the opinions of 4 or 5 people whom you may never see again.
Angie: Do you do a lot of public speaking?
Maryann: Advocated to my community and surrounding areas as a public speaker on behalf of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Org. As a former member of Toastmaster’s International (a corporate organization designed to hone our public speaking skills) I’ve delivered many speeches on various topics to my fellow Toastmasters.
Angie: What kind of an education do you have?
Maryann: Honestly, I knew I wanted to work on computers while in high school. So, I attended Cittone Computer Institute for one year and graduated with a certificate that enabled me to become employed as a Computer Program Tester for Prudential Insurance Company.
I’ve just been accepted to Warren County School of Licensed Practical Nursing studying to become an L.P.N.
Angie: Do you have other creative talents you pursue?
Maryann: Honestly, I’m not the most talented woman in Warren County, but I do have a gift to teach God’s word. I’m expanding my knowledge of cooking and becoming quite the chef as well!
Angie: I love that talent! Is it important for a person to look their best?
Maryann: We always want to look as good as we can for our particular age, however, there are times when we are ill or experience something traumatic that (in my opinion) gives us a legitimate excuse not to wear makeup that day!
Angie: What do you hope you achieved with your titles long term?
Maryann: I hope to encourage women to know they are not alone in this life’s various struggles and that they are “OK” just the way they are; even with a few flaws!
Angie: Will you compete again?
Maryann: I feel a release from God to stop competing.
Angie: You're on to a new dream :-) Would you share about your fashion favorites, flair, or a tip that makes you feel beautiful?
Maryann: I feel most beautiful when I’m eating right and exercising because my overall outlook on life is better at those times.
Angie: What compliment do you receive most often?
Maryann: People tell me I’m a considerate, caring person.
Angie: Do you accept compliments well?
Maryann: Yes, I just say “thank you”. I don’t believe a woman should ever debase herself or put herself down.
Angie: How does a woman accept a compliment gracefully?
Maryann: Simply by smiling and saying “thank you”. Even if she isn’t feeling it, I don’t believe the person giving the complement needs to know that.
Angie: What are you most confident about?
Maryann: My mothering skills and how much I am loved by God.
Angie: How did you earn that sense of confidence?
Maryann: My competent mothering skills came from prayer, Christian-based parenting tapes, parenting books and advice from other moms.
Angie: What would you like to share?
Maryann: I’m just an ordinary woman who, at times, accomplished extraordinary things for God and the good of others. I was also the very first Mrs. Christian International! I’ve been concentrating on raising my nephew (both of his parents died) trying to figure out the best way to help him cope, work and my family. However, I’ve been keeping a low profile lately; by choice.
Angie: Thank you so much, Maryann, for spending time with us today :-) I wish you the most wonderful experience in your nursing career and dreams for the future. May God bless you as you raise your nephew!