Woolford a role model as the new Miss Hawaii


POSTED: Sunday, July 12, 2009

She is among those changing the face—make that the entire person—of what used to be called beauty pageants.

And it's no accident she's a former intercollegiate athlete.

The more you learn about Raeceen Woolford, the more you think she's just right for the job of representing our state as Miss Hawaii, 2009. After all, she's already got plenty of experience in the public eye, as a Rainbow Wahine volleyball player.

Even those UH athletes who aren't regular starters are among the most visible people in the state. They learn at a young age that anything and everything they do (and even some stuff they don't) gets around really fast. This is even more profound with the Coconut Wireless now augmented by phones used for cyber gossip via social media as much as good old-fashioned gabbing.

Athletes, like pageant contestants, entertainers, politicians and all other public figures, have to deal with it. It ain't gonna change.

And Woolford says it ain't gonna change her.

“;I'm used to being on stage.”;

This, even though she's a relative newcomer to the pageant scene. As a little girl, she rarely dreamed of tiaras and roses.

“;My favorite color was brown, and I wanted to be a fisherman,”; she says. “;Then I wanted to be a Rainbow Wahine and a professional athlete. When I was 10, I decided I wanted to be a doctor. In my college years I got in touch with my feminine side.”;

WE'VE SEEN too many young women—many of them athletes—fall victim to unrealistic expectations of beauty that isn't really beauty and fitness that isn't really fitness. Woolford, who aspires to be a pediatrician, is already in a position to effect positive change in an important area of health.

“;I know that the body image issues are so huge when it comes to pageants. People think you need to compromise. But times have changed. It's not about body image. It's about the spirit. That's really the only reason I won.”;

She's now 5-feet-7 and 135 pounds, and admits she lost some weight for the pageant. “;Maybe five or 10,”; she said.

But with Woolford, you know she did it the right way. No binge dieting. No health-endangering regimens. No sticking her finger down her throat.

And it's important that people know about this. If she couldn't lose enough weight to win the contest, so be it, she says. Woolford would not sacrifice her well-being for a crown. No crash dieting for her.

“;I'm proud to say it's not necessary. It's ridiculous, foolish, and it interferes with mental clarity and focus.”;

THEY CALL these things scholarship pageants, and often in the past, that was a farce. But the new Miss Hawaii made the dean's list at 'Iolani and majored in biology.

Raeceen Woolford didn't get as much playing time as she would've liked at UH. But she continued to work hard to make her team better.

She's still a role player, but now it's the role of the star—and as Miss Hawaii she can inspire even more young women to be healthy and active. She'll probably save some lives before she even gets to med school.