Q: I have a massive scar on my stomach following some serious abdominal surgery; is it best to cover it for the swimwear round? Ive been working out loads, and have a bikini ready for Miss Galaxy England on Sunday, but now doubting myself whether I should leave it, use make-up over it, or wear a one-piece!
Alyssa: This might sound crazy but personally I always like to see when girls who have visible scars on their body decide not to hide them. Each scar tells a story, especially one like yours that says, “I have been through things but I survived. I am here now.” I can remember the very first Miss Teen USA pageant I watched on television featured a contestant in the Top 5 who had a very profound scar on her abdomen from surgery and she rocked it during the swimsuit round. At the end of the day though, it is up to you and what you feel most comfortable with. But personally I wouldn’t let a scar hold you back.
Q: Hey Alyssa. That's my name too. Oh yeah, we also share a birthday - I was born on March 21, 2000. How freaky is that? So, Im not fat or anything but I genetically have a large frame, and people always tell me that I have to look a certain way in order to win, especially in the higher levels of competition. I dont think thats necessarily true. Whats your take on that?
Alyssa: Hello there twinnie! I will say this now and I will say it again – there is no certain way you need to look in order to win. Whether you have a large frame or a tiny frame. Girls come in all shapes and sizes! As long as you feel healthy and comfortable in your own skin, it should never matter what your body type is no matter what level of competition you are at.
Q: Since you were Miss NJ Teen USA 07, yet were Miss CA USA 11... why do you think you had to move to CA to win a Miss USA title? Why don't you think Miss NJ USA ever gave you a chance? Obviously it worked well for you in the end, but I found it odd how Miss NJ USA kept passing up on you.
Alyssa: Well honestly I did not move to California to win a state title. I moved to California after signing with a modeling agency (that I am still signed with today) in Los Angeles, and when I was told that I met the requirements to compete in California later that year I decided to just give it a try. I never won Miss NJ USA because it was not my time. Had I won Miss NJ USA 2009 or 2010 I can tell you I would not have won Miss USA. I am a firm believer that things fall into place at the right time for a reason. I was trying too hard to win in NJ, and now that I have had experience as a pageant judge I now know how much that can put off judges. For California, I stopped trying too hard. I was just myself and I felt so much more natural than before. But I was also older with a bit more life experiences and living completely on my own. All of that played a factor. NJ made the right choice by not crowning me when I wasn’t ready. The eventual winners were ready, and it was their time to shine. Things happen for a reason.
Q: First thing you were craving after you won Miss USA?
Alyssa: Honestly, I don’t think I was craving anything! But I do know when I got to my new suite shortly after the crowning, room service left trays upon trays of food for my family and I and I DUG IN without hesitation!
Q: Clearly you are one of the most beautiful women to grace earth (since you were Miss USA and all!!), Did you always have confidence growing up? Did people judge you during high school since you were a title holder/kind-of-a-big-deal?
Alyssa: First of all, thank you for the compliment! In answer to your question, no I did not always have confidence growing up. I was teased and bullied something terrible during my elementary school years, especially when I had to get glasses, and it continued when I got to high school. I was an extremely insecure girl. When I won Miss NJ Teen USA 2007, suddenly everyone wanted to be my friend. But I was not going to play that game. The only real place I ever felt confident was the stage. I was incredibly active in all of my schools’ drama programs and acting on stage as different characters gave me freedom and a boost of confidence (I actually started doing pageants because it involved being on stage!).
Q: Seeing from your Instagram, you are always on the go. Are you a person who likes constant change or to be in a familiar place always? How are the cats handling it!?
Alyssa: I am actually a bit of both. I LOVE adventures and I LOVE to travel. At the same time, I am quite the homebody and enjoy being at home for a while. My cats are pros, though! They have been traveling with me since they were four months old (they are now approaching their 2nd birthday!) so they started getting pretty used to it when they were very young. I can always count on Renly to feel at home wherever we are – a hotel, a new apartment, a family member’s house – within 5 minutes.
Q: When watching over the pageants you've competed in, I've never once seen your hair up. Is there a reason for that or is it just what you are comfortable with? What is your opinion on hair up during competing? Do you prefer it being up for one part of the competition over the other (i.e evening gown vs swimsuit)?
Alyssa: At the time, I was not a fan of my hair being up. I didn’t like the way it looked on me (flash forward a couple years and now you can’t get me to stop wearing buns on top of my head!). I also happen to be a fan of flowing hair, but at the same time I think a bun in the evening gown competition is rather elegant and classy.
Q: For evening gown competition what is the make up 'look' that everyone should aim for? Simple and 'hidden almost', or something that will make a statement?
Alyssa: I am such a huge fan of simple makeup. If the gown is pretty extravagant, I do not think the makeup should be heavy. Personally, I love neutral eye shadow colors, and if you wish to wear false eyelashes then I will always suggest individual lashes instead of strips because they look more natural.
Q: When placing runner up (before even knowing you'd win the title of Miss CA USA) a few times, you didn't give up. Was there a certain person, quote, or internal thought that motivated you to keep trying?
Alyssa: No, I just wanted to keep going until I was tired of it! I had a lot of fun competing, and if I did not win a crown one year then I was determined to return and fight for it the next. Luckily my family supported me in whatever decision I made.
Q: Hi Miss Alyssa! I am one of your fans from the Philippines. I just wanted to ask if there's a chance for a short girl to compete in some prestigious pageant. I'm Rica, I'm 15 and I hope someday I will be able to compete at Miss Universe but sometimes I think it's impossible but I always use this as my inspiration. I'm 4'10 and I hope you'll see this. Thank you much love! 😀
Alyssa: Hi Rica and hello to the Philippines! First of all, since you are still 15, you may still grow a bit more! But at the end of the day, height does not matter. There have been plenty of shorter Miss Universes, even recently. It’s absolutely not impossible.
Have a question for Alyssa? Whether you're seeking pageant tips or advice, curious about her experience as Miss USA, or just want to talk pageants, click here to "Ask Alyssa".
This article was written by Alyssa Campanella
Alyssa Campanella was first introduced to pageants at the age of 15. At age 16, she won the title of Miss New Jersey Teen USA 2007 and placed 1st runner up at Miss Teen USA 2007. At age 20, Alyssa was crowned Miss California USA 2011 and ultimately won the crown and title of Miss USA 2011. Serving as Miss USA 2011, Alyssa traveled around the world on behalf of numerous charitable organizations and placed in the Top 16 at Miss Universe 2011 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. You can follow Alyssa on Twitter at @AlyssCampanella or visit her personal blog at www.jumpersandjasmine.com.