Miss Washington USA looks to change the way we see beauty

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Imani Blackmon of Tacoma wants to fight labels and stereotypes with inclusivity and body positivity. She’s hosting a webinar on the topic this Friday.

TACOMA, Wash. — Imani Blackmon, a Tacoma native who has competed in pageants for 20 years, knows a thing about beauty. 

But this year, as Miss Washington USA 2020, she is using her pageant platform to challenge we way we think about it.

Blackmon knows there’s much more to pageants than the gowns and bright smiles. It’s about poise and confidence. She made history in 2013 as the first Black Miss Washington Teen USA.

Another big part of being crowned is a commitment to the community, as well as making public appearances.

But the coronavirus pandemic had other plans.

So Miss Washington 2020 has had to rely on the internet to send a message she believes is more important than ever.

“My advocacy this year has been representations and inclusivity,” Blackmon said.

Inclusivity is important to Blackmon, especially growing up Black in Washington state.

“Whether it was dance, school or pageantry, I was often the only African American girl in these rooms,” she said.

Blackmon was also self-conscious about her body because she was taller and athletic, which was not the mold of what she saw labeled as beautiful in movies and magazines.

Now that she is in a position to influence more young people, Blackmon is hosting a special free webinar that she hopes will change the way we label beauty and the perceived sense of self-worth that often attached to it.

Blackmon has partnered with an organization called “In Her Shoes” a nonprofit that empowers and inspires women to be their personal best.

The word “personal” is very intentional.

Blackmon’s webinar is called “Reclassifying Beauty.” Joining her will be Siena Lyn Rasmussen, a professional curvy model who works in Los Angeles.

“She’s a plus-size model who works full time in the modeling industry in Hollywood. I’m excited to bring her on because she embodies what it means to be body positive and self-accepting.”

The two dynamic women will host the discussion live on Friday Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets to the webinar are available free on Eventbrite.

Blackmon will also represent our state next month at the Miss USA pageant Nov 9 at Graceland.

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