Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UM student and beauty pageant winner speaks from experience about bullying

Having won the title of Miss Teen New Jersey twice, University of Massachusetts junior Krysten Moore now holds the title of Miss Bergen County. She will compete for the title of Miss New Jersey in June, and then compete for the ultimate crown of Miss America.

Courtesy of Krystan Moore

Moore, 22, began participating in pageants at age 15 after enduring years of bullying.

“When I was younger, I was bullied,” said Moore. “First it was all schoolyard, physical bullying. I would get shoved into lockers. My nickname was ‘Krysten wants Moore food’ and ‘Whale.’ I was one of those overweight kids. It progressed to cyberbullying when I went to high school.”

Her experiences inspired her to partner with Love Our Children USA in 2004 and later become an advocate for the prevention of childhood bullying.

Moore, a computer and electrical engineering major, has traveled all around New England and the Tri-state area speaking to kids from kindergarten through grade 12 about bullying.

So when Moore had a chance to take the stage as a beauty queen, she decided to use her moment in the spotlight to talk about bullying. All pageant participants, Moore said, are required to have a platform – an issue they feel strongly about and advocate for.

Moore chose the issue  “the education and prevention of childhood bullying.”

Along with conflict resolution and the acceptance of diversity among peers, Moore addresses the importance of self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence, all of which she said improved for her through participation in beauty pageants.

“It really is just about being you,” said Moore. “If you’re passionate about what you stand for and if you can walk with grace and poise in a dress then you can really do well.”

Moore won her first title in 2006 and her second in 2008 as Miss Teen New Jersey. She began her involvement with the Miss America Organization in 2010.

“My first pageant was a whirlwind,” said Moore. “I had no idea what to expect. I kind of was thrown into this world that everyone else knew so much about.”

Despite her initial inexperience, Moore managed to make the top 15 in her first pageant – an accomplishment which she said was no small feat.

The competition, Moore explained, is a scholarship organization and requires participants to stay in “good academic standing,” as well as complete community service hours. The stages of the competition are eveningwear, swimsuit and talent.

“My talent is tap-dancing,” said Moore. “I’ve been dancing ever since I was young. I’ve traded in a couple times for horseback riding boots, for ballet shoes, for heels but [tap-dancing] has been something I loved since I was little.”

In high school, even after Moore had slimmed down and was no longer the target of weight-related jokes, the bullying continued.

She said there was a fake Myspace page made, through which a few people at her high school posed as a boy she liked.

“We would have these conversations and he would just talk to me, and I fell in love with this boy,” said Moore. “Little did I know, my conversations were being posted all over school, sent around and mocked.”

In an effort to prevent other young people from going through what she did, Moore said she explains the reasons behind bullying and encourages people to overcome the damaging effects of bullying.

“A bully doesn’t define who you are,” Moore said. “They are a mean and malicious person who has something wrong within themselves whether it’s a need of power or putting others down to make them feel better. And you need to realize that before you can have self-worth.”

Moore ends all of her presentations by reciting her favorite quote, “With one small gesture you can change someone’s life whether it’s for the better or for the worse. It simply depends on the gesture you choose.”

It’s by an anonymous author, and it’s – according to Moore – “the kind of thing that stays in the back of your mind.”

When she is not participating in pageants or furthering her platform, Moore is a bit of a thrill seeker. She has traveled to the Dominican Republic, where she made balloon animals in underprivileged villages. She has been spelunking with her father, as well as skydiving.

“I’ve done all those adventurous things you wouldn’t think, stereotypically, of a pageant girl doing,” she said. “But I am definitely the tomboy of the family. I am definitely daddy’s girl.”

Moore said that if she wins Miss New Jersey, she will take a year off from school, and get her degree a year later. Holding the title will require her to live in New Jersey full-time, traveling and doing appearances. She said that one day she hopes to become a nuclear automation and combustion engineer.

Steffi Porter can be reached at [email protected].

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