Gretchen Carlson, , like so many of her Miss America sisters, looks better today than ever.  It’s not just because she, like they, takes care of herself – it’s because she has pursued a productive life. She is currently co-host on Fox and Friends. In a More Magazine article she says, “I feel so much prettier now than I did when I wore that crown. I’m more sure of myself and feel I deserve the recognition I get.”

Me and Gretchen at the 2009 Miss America Gala

Me and Gretchen at the 2009 Miss America Gala

People say that because the women who become Miss America are beautiful, doors open for them. The former Miss Americas interviewed for my award winning book, Pretty Smart: Lessons from our Miss Americas, admit to that. But what they will also tell you is that the door closes with a bang if there is no substance behind the beauty.

As a 23 year old graduate of Stanford University and a child violin prodigy, Gretchen who became Miss America in 1989, pursued the crown because of the opportunity that pageant participation afforded her to perform as a violin virtuoso and for the scholarship money she could win.

Though Gretchen now shops in the petite department, she will tell you that she packed a few extra pounds when she was younger. “I was a tomboy, not into my looks at all. I struggled with my weight my whole life, especially as a child. I was a chubby kid who faced a tremendous amount of ridicule. When I overheard a guy I wanted to go out with say, ‘She’s a really nice girl, but she’s too fat,’ I got my act together and lost thirty pounds.

“The morning after I became Miss America I shared that story at my first press conference. I thought it would be inspirational to young girls to know that you don’t have to fit into this perfect mold to end up becoming Miss America. I told the press that my brother used to call me nicknames like Blimpo. The next day the headline in the National Enquirer read ‘Blimpo Wins Miss America Pageant.’ That’s how they spun it. I thought I was giving a positive message.”

Though the National Enquirer chose to spin Gretchen’s comments to create controversy, in fact, she has continued to live a life worth emulating.

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