Vanessa Rangel, a 16-year-old Middle College High School student, is a contestant in the Miss California Teen Pageant taking place in Pasadena, California in January.
The road to pageantry was a long one. As a child she was teased and taunted.
“In the third grade I was showing signs of a misaligned jaw, I looked different,” she said.
Her condition made her jaw protrude and she had difficulty eating. The bullying went farther than just name-calling.
“There was food thrown at me and threats to ruin my school projects,” Rangel said.
In an effort to raise her self-esteem, her mother began entering her in beauty pageants.
The stage wasn’t new to Rangel; she had done dance recitals before as a child.
But for pageants, there were new tasks to be learned. In preparation for the Miss California Teen Pageant, Rangel has been practicing her posture.
“I have to walk in heels, turn in a dress. I have to get in shape, working out for the swimsuit,” she said.
In a previous pageant Rangel won Most Community Service, a top honor, but did not place in the finals.
“They wanted someone that looked normal.”
In March of this year, Rangel had surgery to correct her jaw. Being the first pageant since her surgery, it will be a pivotal moment in her young life.
However many hardships she has gone through, the pageant contestant still finds time to help others.
“I support the … Ronald McDonald House charity,” she said, “Where I live, there’s a cheer team. I was the volunteer coach.”
Today, she not only takes a public stand against bullying, but shares advice to her younger siblings.
“Don’t give up, it ends. Show them that you’re not afraid,” she said.