For the love of the pageant

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By Kirsten Laskey

Think pageants are just a long line of women with hair sprayed drenched coifs and plastered-on fake smiles? Bernadette Lopez, a 2003 graduate of Los Alamos High School, is putting these conventional thoughts to rest.

Lopez, a 25-year-old wife and mother of two children, has a love for the pageants. As a junior in high school, she was third runner up and then first runner up in Ms. Teen competitions. Last year, she placed in the top 15 in the Mrs. America pageant. Other accolades include “Most Photogenic” and “Most Money Raise.”

Next year, Lopez will again put on a sash, and hopefully the crown, in the Mrs. International 2010, which will be held July 13-18.

The competition will include all 50 states and seven international countries. Contestants will compete in an interview session, which is 50 percent of the score, as well as model fitness wear, which is 25 percent of the score, and model an evening gown, which is another 25 percent of the score.   

Lopez entered the competition at her husband, Joseph’s, encouragement. He saw information about the pageant and told her to pursue it.

Lopez explained she has a real passion for pageants. She has watched the competitions since she was a little girl.

What she appreciates about this particular pageant its that is caters to all ages – from 23-54, and allows contestants to be themselves.

“It shows you that women sacrifice a lot to get them where they want to be,” she said.

Additionally, “I think it gives me an opportunity to help others.”

Through this particular pageant, Lopez hopes to assist others through her platform on breast cancer.  She will speak on behalf of the New Mexico chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  

Lopez choose this subject because both her grandmothers passed away from the cancer and her best friend recently discovered she could possibly be a carrier for breast cancer.

She added, ‘I was one of those women who never got checked for it … (I) realized the need to take it more seriously.”

She hopes to pass this message of breast cancer awareness to others.

Lopez also has her own story to offer inspiration to others. Lopez explained she got pregnant at age 19 but she still continued her education and received an associate’s degree in business and journalism at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s in nursing at Northern New Mexico College.

Lopez worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory for a period of time but decided to quit to be a full-time mom for her daughter, Miranda, age 5, and D’Angelo, age 1.

Getting ready for the pageant has been a real family affair.

Along with her husband’s encouragement, Lopez said her daughter has helped her pick out outfits. She noted Miranda loves sparkly shoes.

“It’s actually been really good,” Lopez said. “My husband and kids have been so supportive.”

Her husband has told her, “ ‘You shouldn’t give up on your goals and dreams,’” Lopez said.

She added her daughter loves to wear her sashes and crowns and has informed her father that she, too would like to be in pageants.

“For me, it’s like my whole family is helping me,” Lopez said.

If people are interested becoming a sponsor for Lopez’s participation or want to learn more about Lopez, visit www.bernalopez.com.