Malverne teen Kimberly Taff got the confidence boost of her life earlier this month when she was crowned Miss Long Island Teen 2011. And for the 17-year-old soccer-playing humanitarian, that's what entering the beauty pageant was all about.
When she was first selected in April as a finalist in the pageant, Taff told the Herald that competing fosters self-esteem. “I have had to speak in front of large groups of people and share what I believe is important to me and other young women,” Taff had said. “It’s not all about crowns and sashes, but about building confidence, finding one’s voice and expressing one’s self.”
And that's what she did. It's also what helped propel her to the top of the competition: Beauty and brains are great, but mean little without a strong sense of self. In acknowledging that, Taff hasn't let the crown get to her head.
"[Winning] helped me to really believe that hard work does not go unnoticed," Taff said in a recent interview. "Pageants also help me to discover my true self: during the interview portion of competition, it is hard to be someone you're not, and pageants really strive in finding that true you."
Best of all, Taff added, "It feels great to know that I won this pageant just by being myself."
Although confident from the start that she would succeed in the pageant, Taff worked hard to land the top spot, rehearsing for months prior to the competition. "I made sure to practice what I was going to do, how I was going to do it every night before I went to bed and dreamt each night of being crowned," she said. "It feels amazing to know that my hours of hard work of training at the gym and reviewing 'pageant questions' have paid off."
Through her actions, volunteer work and mere presence, Taff has demonstrated her strength of character and genial nature — even in the midst of competition.
During the interview portion of the pageant, which took place at the Patchogue Theatre of Performing Arts on Aug. 15, Taff spent the majority of her time trying to help her competitors.
"I was the first to go, and after my interview I was able to socialize with the girls and pep them up for their interviews," she said.