WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - “The new Miss USA 2009 is . . . North Carolina’s Kristen Dalton!”
When those words rang through Planet Hollywood Resort Casino in Las Vegas on April 19, 2009, the 22-year-old from Wilmington had achieved her dream. Those closest to the Hoggard High School grad knew she had a desire to one day wear that crown. Kristen had won Miss Greater Wilmington in 2006 and Miss North Carolina USA in 2008, climbing the ladder of competition success. But behind what everyone saw as a confident titleholder, was a young woman battling feelings of self-doubt.
“If you ask anyone who I went to school with, they’d be like ‘I had no idea’,” Kristen said. “People have written me and said, ‘I had no idea’. That’s because I was really good at acting like I was confident. I knew how to act like it, because I’m a performer. But I didn’t feel it.”
Kristen’s drive to overcome those feelings is the backdrop for her third book, The Sparkle Effect. By weaving her life experiences in with messages from Scripture, and ending each chapter with prayer, Kristen aims to help women, especially teenage girls, overcome the same challenges she faced after her family moved from Concord to Wilmington.
“I was a new girl at school,” she remembers about her first year as a seventh-grader at Roland-Grise Middle School. “I had a really short haircut. I had a face covered with acne, and braces. So, I did not feel pretty. I felt really lonely at times. That whole phase, I feel it was about nine years of the ‘ugly duckling’ phase, I had to work through. But through all of that, and through feeling insecure and even years of feeling depressed, I still had this dream of becoming Miss USA one day. That’s a really important message in the book. We’re going to go through phases, or years, or seasons of not necessarily feeling confident or worthy of the dream that God put in our heart. But we still have to make a decision that we’re going to believe that if God put a dream in our heart that we are worthy of it, even when our feelings don’t match up.”
Cheerleader and student-council member at Hoggard, performer at Opera House Theater Company in Wilmington, sophomore class president, Dean’s List and double-major (Psychology & Spanish) at East Carolina University, Kristen says she worked to build her resume with achievements similar to those of other titleholders, all in the effort to achieve her dream of becoming Miss USA.
“I was crazy,” Kristen says about the drive to win the title. “I studied Miss USAs and Miss Americas, and what were their bios, what they had accomplished. I made short-and long-term goals that emulated that, in a sense that I would be a role model, I would be a leader, I was making an impact, I was serving others.”
“The next day, I was in my apartment in New York City, and the criticism started rolling in, criticism that I had heard my entire life,” Kristen says in the video. “I was laying there thinking ‘This was supposed to complete me! This was supposed to make me feel beautiful! But actually, I’m just sitting here feeling like the runner-up again!’.”
Kristen says the ‘paradigm-shifting moment’ came when she realized another crown meant more than the one she received for winning Miss USA. When someone asked her ‘Don’t you know you are a daughter of the King?’, it took her Christian beliefs to a new level, allowing her to face life’s challenges with a new perspective.
“I was like, ‘What? Hold on a second. First of all, I’m going to Tweet that so my future husband knows that I’m special’,” Kristen says with a smile about her reaction to the question. “Second of all, If I’m a daughter of the King, that makes me a Princess. It makes me Royalty. It makes me someone who knows who I am, who is operating from a place of victory rather than for victory. I got very passionate about what it meant, which really shifted my entire career.”
Along with her online magazine and blog, Kristen Dalton Wolfe is also a motivational speaker, model and host for JUCE-TV. She and her husband Kris and daughter Aurora live in Los Angeles. The Sparkle Effect is Kristen’s third book, describing the beauty she believes can radiate from every woman with the confidence of knowing God’s message.
“I did have this confidence about me and backbone of resilience as I was competing, there’s just been another level ever since,” she says. “That is the place I want women, especially young women and teenage girls, to operate from at a younger age so they don’t have to go through questioning themselves, doubting themselves, or trying to change themselves to please other people.”
You can hear the full podcast conversation with former Miss USA Kristen Dalton Wolfe by clicking on any of the links below.
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