I had the opportunity to interview Michele Strom from WeTv’s Obsessed With The Dress, which airs on Fridays at 11 p.m. Michele is a pageant coach and the owner of the Winning Crown Boutique in Omaha, Nebraska that specializes in pageant dresses. Previously, Michele held the title of Mrs. Nebraska 2007 and placed 2nd-runner up at Mrs. America 2007.
In our interview, Michele discusses body image issues in pageantry, how she feels when her client’s don’t walk away with the crown, and she gives you her best pageant advice. Check out a few highlights from the interview below:
On seeing commercials for Obsessed With The Dress for the first time:
Watching the first commercial that came on TV was the most surreal moment. So, I’m sitting in my living room, 10:00 at night, in my pajamas, with my kids, with Joshua [her significant other], and all of a sudden we’re flipping through channels. We’re like “Oh it’s WeTV” and there is a commercial for the show. I couldn’t believe it. It was really a moment where you’re like, “Wow! This is truly going to happen.”
On body image issues in pageantry and being physically fit:
You are entering a beauty pageant where physical fitness is important. Now, I think there is a huge difference in being physically fit and being anorexic or skinny to the point where your ribs are showing or your hips are smaller than your shoulder width. That is not the look that I think anyone should go for or I condone. However, I think everybody, competing in a pageant or not, should be physically fit. I believe that it’s for everyone’s best interest to be as fit as they can be for themselves because it results in a healthier lifestyle. I think that’s the most important part.
But I do understand that there are girls out there who have major issues with their body image. And I think that you have to address that very delicately, and I think it’s important not to steer people in the wrong direction of being that ultra skinny person. And I don’t want to ever see that.
So, when I am coaching girls, and they’re in a swimsuit competition, I tell them to be in the best shape that they can be in, and that may not be the same for everybody. And that’s okay.
But at the end of the day, you want to go into a competition feeling confident. You want to feel great about yourself. And if you’re in a swimsuit, it’s hard to feel good and to feel confident because I think the media has portrayed a very negative image of what woman should be. And I think it’s important for all of us to change that image and tell people, that it’s all about being fit. It’s all about being healthy. It’s not all about being ultra skinny and bony.
Michele (left) on Obsessed With The Dress
On how she feels when her clients don’t walk away with the crown:
I love for my girls to win because I feel like it’s a reflection of what I’ve given them. So, there was actually a pageant where I had three really strong contenders in. It was an Outstanding Teen pageant. All three of them could have walked away with the title. All three were amazing. So, I figured one of those three were going to win. They had everything. They had the talent. They had the wardrobe. They were very well-spoken. Went into that competition and none of them won.
And I was so heartbroken for each and every one of them. I actually went back to my hotel room. I think I cried all the way to the car. Left the car. Cried all the way to the hotel. Got to the hotel and didn’t talk to anyone for like a day because I felt like part of me let them down. Because I felt like one of them should have won. What it made me do was come back a little bit stronger and realize that there was more to winning the crown than just the amazing dress and the wardrobe. And I really needed to dig in deeper and help these girls even more in the interview competition and with their stage presence.
That was several years ago. But I feel like we’ve come back even stronger. One of those girls did actually come back the next year and won the title. So, that was a little bit of redemption. So my heart breaks every time one of my clients doesn’t win because I feel like a little part of me is up on stage with them.
Her best pageant advice:
I think the best advice I can give is to plan. To map out exactly where you want to go. If it is to win, map out how you get there. If it’s to place higher than you did the time before or if it is to win the interview, map out how you get there. If it means, I want to win. Okay, I am going to make sure that I cover every area of the competition including, I’ve gone through the interview. I know exactly who I am and what I want to say.
Notice I didn’t say, I know who exactly who the judges are and what they want to hear. Because none of that matters. It’s all about who you are, and what you want them to know about you. So mapping that out and figuring out what the most important aspect of your life, is what’s going to help you get further in the pageant.
I believe that being physically fit is also equally important. Making sure that you feel your best. You look your best is really important. I believe you should always have professional help because you would never go into any kind of sporting competition without a coach or somebody there to guide you in the direction that you want to go. Those I think are the most important parts.
You can listen to the full interview below:
Check out a clip from last night’s episode of Obsessed With The Dress below:
The season finale of Obsessed With The Dress will air Friday, September 6 at 11:00pm. Be sure to tune in! You can also check out the show’s website for more pageant advice from Michele.