Shh! It's a Secret!

032210FEATURE.jpg Shh! It's a Secret!
Pageant director shares all

Not everyone can be a beauty queen, but that doesn't mean we can't learn from one. After more than 20 years' experience with Miss Ohio USA, this local woman shares her secrets with you, so learn what small steps you can take to transform your beauty, health, social life, fashion and career.

You can use toothpaste to zap zits or shine silver, and if you've watched "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," you know that Windex works miracles. All of these word-of-mouth secrets that divulge how to make life a little easier and more enjoyable come from somebody else's experiences.


Melissa Pitchford has picked up her fair share of these helpful hints in her 27 years of experience with Miss Ohio USA. After being a competitor and sitting behind the judges' table, Pitchford started running the show more than 10 years ago as the executive director — and she's been helping women show off their beauty (both inside and out) ever since.


Cincy Chic went behind the pageant curtain to get the training tips that prepare Miss Ohio USA to be Miss USA, and now, Pitchford fills you in on her beauty, health, social, fashion and career expertise.


Beauty: Looks aren't Everything


Pitchford's No. 1 beauty secret isn't found in a bottle or skincare regimen. "The key to being beautiful is self-confidence," she says. In her experience, the most beautiful women that walk the pageant runways might not have the most expensive gown or the most symmetrical faces, but they do have self-confidence.


Unfortunately, you can't buy this beautifier. "It's much easier to go to a spa than get self-confidence," Pitchford says. But the first step toward that confidence crown is adjusting your focus. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing all of your imperfections, look at the "beautiful and wonderful things — inside and outside," Pitchford says.


If you find it difficult to find something positive, make it happen. Take steps to renew your look on the outside and revitalize your self-confidence on the inside. Go to a salon and try a new look, Pitchford says. Before your trip, think about buying a hair piece from Sally Beauty Supply to add more oomph to your 'do, and have your stylist shape the piece for your hair. 


If you're not looking for new tresses, slip into some new skin. "I'm not a fan of tanning, but I am a fan of color," Pitchford says. So look to spray tans and Mystic Tan to turn you into a bronze bombshell. Then head to the MAC or Dior counter to makeover your makeup. Ask the experts for application tips and advice.


Also, keep in mind that your "smile is key to feeling great," Pitchford says. While one of those word-of-mouth secrets says that baking soda and strawberries can lead you to a set of pearly whites, Pitchford recommends Crest Whitestrips, which do the trick without the intensity of a professional whitening.


Health: Food and Fitness032210GCI_INSTORY.gif


Just as you might need to change the way you look in the mirror, you might need to change the way you look at your plate. "Think of food as nutritional value and fuel value," Pitchford says. The food choices you make help your inside health, but they also help your skin and self-confidence.


Besides drinking tons of water and taking vitamins, there's something to the old adage that "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," Pitchford says. Eat great foods like fruit and vegetables to keep yourself strong. Also, one of Pitchford's food secrets is a very common snack: popcorn. Don't eat the buttery, salty kind, and eat the plain popcorn as a nutritious, low-calorie snack.


The most important shared secret comes from her husband, who says, "Treat your body good Monday through Friday, and on the weekends have a little fun." And if you do have to give into your sweet tooth, "don't deprive yourself of it, but have it before 11 a.m. so you are sure to burn it off throughout the day," Pitchford says.


While Pitchford recommends a normal exercise routine, she also recommends ways you can "sneak" fitness into your day. Spend less time hunting a parking spot and more time walking as you park far away. And hear less elevator music as you walk the stairs.


Social: Toast to Great Posture


When it comes to social skills, Pitchford recommends Toastmasters International, a group with which every Miss Ohio USA becomes involved. This group helps women develop strong public speaking and leadership skills.


One common grace Toastmaster shares with women is the idea of an "open" posture. Crossed arms are notorious for being part of a "closed" posture, but one of the worst habits for a woman's body positioning comes when texting. With shoulders slumped, head down and hands squeezed together, a woman's body while texting gives off the wrong body language, Pitchford says.


Fashion: Film-worthy Fashion


While Pitchford works with film makers, she picked up a little tidbit. Film stylists want their films to enjoy longevity, so the fashion in them often is chosen to be more classic chic than trendy fashionista. Look to "The Devil Wears Prada" for fashion inspiration, Pitchford says. This movie features almost every age bracket, to serve as a universal learning tool.


No matter the inspiration level, though, be careful to buy good shoes. Whether you're hanging out with your friends or giving an important presentation, shoes really make a statement, for better or worse. To keep the positive on your side, Pitchford recommends wearing only close-toed, close-backed shoes in the workplace. "People don't want to see your toes," she says.


Career: Circle Back


Just as it's the key to being beautiful, self-confidence works wonders in the workplace. To achieve the professional self-confidence, Pitchford recommends following Donald Trump's advice from his book How to Get Rich: Know what you do, be passionate about it, and you'll be successful.


While money helps pay the bills and put food on the tables, it's not the only way to be rich. Being able to love what you do on a daily basis provides fulfillment in your life, so think about what you truly want to do and immerse yourself in it. Learn, learn, learn, and then put your knowledge to work.


To learn more about Miss Ohio USA, visit the pageant's Web site at And head to to vote for Cincinnati-native and Miss Ohio USA 2010 Amanda Tempel.



Photographer: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Model: Kirsten Schaffer
Location: The McAlpin

Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>

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