When you think of beauty pageants, you’ll probably think of Miss America, Miss Universe, or maybe even the movie “Miss Congeniality.” Unfortunately, many pageants (and the movie) are considered to be somewhat outdated. While women still compete, pageants have become stigmatized and misaligned by prioritizing looks over purpose… Until Miss Earth came along.
The Miss Earth pageant focuses on individual efforts to better the planet. The girls competing have a solid edge on climate change, environmental health, and community involvement. Contestants are required to be involved in organizations that have a positive global impact, which completely changes the trajectory of the pageant since the girls are directly addressing climate needs and environmental concerns. For this reason, when launched in 2001, Miss Earth coined the term “Beauties for a Cause.”
Circling back to how beautiful the women competing in the Miss Earth Pageant are, another next-level advantage the Miss Earth pageant has above others is its inclusivity. In the past, you would seldom see a plus-sized or handicapped competitor. Now, that is no longer the case. As recently seen on the United States national stage, all sizes, disabilities, and otherwise categorically different women are eligible to compete.
It’s important to note that each participating country hosts its own Miss Earth pageant, and typically the national representative holds the crown for a full year. Now, the winner of Miss Earth USA 2023, Danielle Mullins from Louisville, Kentucky, is headed to Vietnam and the Philippines to compete for the global crown of Miss Earth.
Being a representation of women and goals in American society, Danielle is relatable and approachable, which has helped her wear her crown confidently during the last year. Additionally, these qualities make her ambassadorship for the United States truly awe-worthy. In terms of her advocacy, Danielle Mullins is intrinsically tied into some organizations that will make you think about your next environmental move – which is the goal! Danielle is an ambassador for Meatless Mondays, Lady Code, and Wands for Wildlife, and she’s all-in when it comes to educating people on the causes.
Interestingly, Danielle Mullins has an extensive background in the beauty industry. When she’s not on the stage with her sash and crown, Danielle works as a professional makeup artist specializing in pageant makeup. Working in the beauty industry, Danielle realized how unintentionally toxic to the planet that the industry is. Between dangerous ingredients (for both the planet and people,) packaging, and animal testing, Danielle quickly realized where she needed to apply her passion.
“Wands for Wildlife, my goodness, I found Wands for Wildlife when I worked in cosmetic sales. It feels like a true full-circle moment since even back then, I couldn’t believe how much waste is created from disposable mascara wands. I realized it's better to collect the wands than to have them sit in a landfill. It’s wild how many environmentally-related issues exist in the beauty industry. When I finally became a makeup artist, Wands for Wildlife served as an excellent cause that simultaneously inspired other artists to make one tiny change with one huge impact. Wands for Wildlife takes used mascara wands and then cleans and sanitizes them to be reused. They’re a non-profit, and they also recognize the different purposes for different wands as they’ve expanded to work with animal rescues, like the Enchanted Forest Wildlife Rescue.” – Danielle Mullins, Miss Earth USA 2023
“Enchanted Forest Wildlife Rescue has over 100 acres of land designated to protect and rehabilitate natural wildlife. In August, I was fortunate enough to have been able to help care for a pair of foxes that were released back into the wild. I’ll never forget it! When they were released, they quickly scurried away into the forest, but shortly after, they came back, and it felt as if they were saying, ‘Thank you.’ It exemplified the work that the Enchanted Forest Wildlife Rescue has been doing, and it truly warmed my heart. If you see the photos, you can see happy, healthy foxes reuniting with the wild.” – Danielle Mullins, Miss Earth USA 2023
“Meatless Mondays, this one is so near and dear to my heart. I know not everyone can commit to a full vegetarian diet, and that’s fine! A few months back, I worked with a restaurant to host a Meatless Monday night. The restaurant offered a delicious plant-based menu, and I was able to educate people about both plant-based meals and vegetarian lifestyle. People came in skeptical but soon realized the menu options were yummy. I grew up on a farm, so I understand the human desire to consume meat, but it was eye-opening to hear the feedback and to see people want to try it. The coolest part about Meatless Mondays is how massive the impact is when people make the change for only one day a week. What started as an attempt to save rations of meat for the troops during World Wars 1 and 2, the concept has evolved and empowered people today to both reduce their meat consumption and impact the number of animals killed.” – Danielle Mullins, Miss Earth USA 2023
“Lady Code is an incredible makeup company that has partnered with Miss Earth. The brand ensures that packaging is minimal, absolutely nothing is tested on animals, the ingredients are safe for people and the environment, and the products pack a punch. All of the products are inspired by something earth-friendly, like their ‘Black Stalli’ mascara as Black Stallion horses are known for their magnificent naturally long lashes.” – Danielle Mullins, Miss Earth USA 2023
All in all, the Miss Earth pageant is so much more than walking on a stage, looking pretty, and winning a crown. As industries evolve (beauty, fashion, pageantry, and more,) social media has helped by playing a vital role in identifying environmental urgencies and ultimately helping inspire candidates to realize what they’re advocating for.
Danielle goes to the Philippines this week and then to Vietnam for four weeks, culminating with the final coronation on 22 December. Over the next few weeks, she’ll immerse herself in a new perspective of environmental education. KF Camp is a training program in the Philippines where the contestants will refine their poise, skills, mannerisms, and etiquette (which is a program most women could benefit from.) Furthermore, Danielle's custom dresses and costumes are being designed by Minh Tuan in Vietnam, and Francis Deney Lee in the Philippines. Most dresses and costumes have been repurposed from prior gowns and costumes from former contestants.
Miss Earth USA tells us she’ll be extremely focused, “like an athlete,” since this is a competition and a test of her passion. She has her head in the game and she’s ready to show the world that she means business!
“I’m looking forward to competition time and getting the experience of being in Asia for six weeks between the Philippines and Vietnam! I think back on my life, everything I’ve been through, rebuilding my self-confidence, deciding to go after a dream that feels so far outlandish, being completely disciplined, and making those sacrifices, to now see myself here is truly unbelievable. Pinch me! I believe everything happens for a reason, and everything in my life has brought me here.” Danielle then quotes a very famous quote from Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone that creates many ripples.” – Danielle Mullins, Miss Earth USA 2023