2018-06-15 / Front Page

Kimberly Mastropasqua:

From bullied teen to beauty queen
By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

Kimberly Mastropasqua of South Portland is crowned Mrs. Maine America 2018 by reigning pageant winner Cynthia Peters of Gorham during the annual event, held April 21-22 at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in South Portland. (Susan Costa Photograph) Kimberly Mastropasqua of South Portland is crowned Mrs. Maine America 2018 by reigning pageant winner Cynthia Peters of Gorham during the annual event, held April 21-22 at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in South Portland. (Susan Costa Photograph) SOUTH PORTLAND — When Kimberly Mastropasqua of South Portland was named Mrs. Maine April 22, it was more than the usual runway triumph.

Mastropasqua, 25, captured the eyes and hearts of the five-person panel of judges, handling the interview portion of the festivities with poise and grace while letting her beauty speak for itself, as she claimed top honors in both the swimsuit and evening gown sections of the competition. In doing so, she beat out 15 other married women from across the state for the right to represent Maine at the 42nd annual Mrs. America Pageant in Las Vegas, August 22-25.

But Mastropasqua also won a bit of personal vindication. That’s because, believe it or not, she was once a bullied teen, too shy and introverted to defend herself against the proverbial mean girls of her native New Jersey.

On July 10, Mastropasqua took time to share her experiences with the Sentry, including why – as she prepares for upcoming appearances at the Freeport Independence Day parade, Lisbon’s Moxie Festival and Yarmouth Clam Festival – she’s making anti-bullying and suicide prevention the cornerstone causes of her year-long reign.

Q: As we’ve noted, you were raised in New Jersey. What brought you to Maine?

A: I moved here seven years ago for a change in life. I just didn’t have the type of personality for New Jersey and it wasn’t the kind of place where I wanted to live. I wanted to live somewhere a little bit more peaceful. I had a grandfather living in Saco so I took a chance on moving here. And it just seemed all the puzzle pieces of life fell into place once I did. I may not have been born here, but I now consider myself a Mainer for life.

Q: What do you do when not fulfilling your duties as Mrs. Maine?

A: I work for InterMed. I work from home in the health information management department. I work from three in the morning until 10 a.m., and then I stay at home with my son during the week. He’s 22 months old.

Q: Did you come up through the pageant system as a teen?

A: No, this was brand new for me. I’ve never done anything like this.

Q: What then led to you becoming a pageant contestant?

A: I got approached two years ago. I was at a hair appointment and this woman in the salon kept staring at me. Later on she found my name in a chart and she looked me up and asked me to be in the Miss America pageant. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, that sounds great.” But then I looked into it the rules said you couldn’t me married. But then that same woman told me there is such a thing as a “Mrs.” pageant.

Q: And why the holdover from two years ago to finally entering the Mrs. Maine America pageant this year?

A: My husband Vincent and I really wanted to have a child first. So, I kind of put all of that on hold. But then I was reached out to again to do it. So, I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

Q: How does it make you feel to be ‘discovered’ as you were – to just have some random person come up to you and say, ‘Hey, you should really be in a beauty pageant?’

A: Oh, my gosh, amazing. I didn’t even have words. I was, like, “Me? No way.” But, why not, you know? Why not do it. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Q: For those who do not know, how are Mrs. Maine contestants judged?

A: We have a preliminary competition to meet with each of the five judges individually, for four minutes, each. Then, after the opening number on the day of the pageant, we have our swimsuit and evening gown competitions. From that the Top 8 each answer a question on the spot, drawn at random from a fish bowl.

Q: What was your question?

A: I actually had the easiest question, I feel like. It was, “What is the best thing that’s ever happened to you?” Easy answer – my son! So, that really worked in my favor.

Q: Are most of the contestants mothers like yourself, or is the only requirement that they be married?

A: Yes, most of the ones I’ve met so far are all mothers. I feel like the Mrs. – because we’re all adults, we’re all mothers — we all just became instant friends, because we all have so much in common, from the shared experience of being a mother, and things like that.

Q: And being all married, you must each have a “How I met my husband” story. How did you meet yours?

A: We met in a restaurant. I was a waitress, and he was just kind of always there (laughs). So, we kind of crossed paths multiple times. And we learned we have so much in common. So, we moved in together, and got married, and now we have a child. It’s been so nice. And we have dinner every Sunday with his parents.

A: Why did you pick South Portland as your family home?

Q: Well, my husband already lived here. But I fell in love with the community right away. I actually coach middle school cheering for South Portland youth sports. I actually had a few of the girls come to my pageant, which was so sweet of them. And, it’s not just the community, the school system here is great, too. So, I think this is where we are going to stay, in South Portland, for the rest of our lives.

Q: What are you most looking forward to at the national competition?

A: I’m just really excited to meet all of the different personalities and hear all the different accents of my fellow contestants from all across the country. I’m super excited about that. I think it’s going to be a great time. But I don’t feel like it’s a competition. I think it’s just being out there and being confident. That’s what it’s all about.

Q: Have you received any backlash about being a beauty queen in this more feminist era? Some people might consider it passé, and even the Miss America competition recently announced it is doing away with its swimsuit competition.

A: No, it’s all been positive. I haven’t heard one bad thing. Everyone I know has been so great. I actually have a big chunk of friends going with me to Vegas to support me. So, that’s really exciting.

Q: What has been the biggest change in your life since becoming Mrs. Maine?

A: Oh, my gosh, I’ve gotten so many friend requests on Facebook. I have no idea how that happened. But people have been reaching out to me – people I don’t even know, but who are connected in some way to Mrs. Maine America, or Mrs. America. The support has been fantastic because, coming from New Jersey, I had no support system. So, having all of this support now is really kind of overwhelming, but in a good way.

Q: So, would you say moving to Maine worked out well for you?

A: Oh, yes. And not just because of this pageant. Coming to Maine was the best decision I ever made. Like I said, I never had any support in New Jersey, but the people of Maine have given me that and so much more. I just love Maine so much. I’m so happy that, now that I’m Mrs. Maine, I can give back in a whole lot of ways, by volunteering and things like that, because pageants like this still give you a platform. They can still allow a young woman with no big connections to have her voice heard.

Q: And as you tour the state, attending different events as Mrs. Maine, what do you intend to speak about?

A: I’ll be getting out there in some way every weekend, doing different events. I just did one for a homeless veterans program, and Bikes for Tots, and I’ve got a whole bunch of parades coming up. It’s all about being there for young girls especially. I admit it, I love my crown, but I love even more letting little girls try it on. They get to feel like a princess, for a few minutes at least. And, whenever possible, I’ll be speaking out about anti-bullying and suicide prevention. Hopefully, I can be an inspiration – to everyone really, but young girls mostly – on that topic, and really educate people.

Q: And why have you chosen those issues to support?

A: Because I went through it myself, from third grade and all the way through high school. So, my goal is to educate and make people more aware of symptoms and things to look out for, and, hopefully, create better lives for our youth, and older people as well. I will be going to a few middle schools in October, which is anti-bullying month, to just tell my story and make people aware of what that kind of thing can do to somebody.

Q: What did it do to you?

A: In my case it made me stronger. It was rough. It was tough. I got really down at times. But I found a way to look at the positives and push through. I’m here today and I’m personally confident, but that doesn’t necessarily happen with everybody. I just want everybody to know that you can get through it, that you can be happy, that it will be over. You just need to stay true to yourself.

Q: Most people would probably look at you and presume you were the popular girl. Were you the proverbial ugly duckling as a teen, or a late bloomer?

A: Oh, I’m a beautiful woman, a confident woman, today. And I like to think I was pretty cute as a youth. But that meant nothing to the people who were bullying me. And that’s part of my message – that looks have nothing to do with it, anyone can be bullied. And anyone can be a bully. In my case, I think being quiet and timid made me a target in my school. But it’s so varied. It can be anyone for any reason. And the thing to do is to just be true to yourself and not get into bad situations by doing anything just to fit in with others.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like folks to know?

A: Just that I’m super excited to represent Maine, and I hope to bring home the crown.

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