Pageant winner, devoted pantyhose wearer lives life of beauty


Robin Maryland
Robin Maryland, president, ActSensuous

ActSensuous is thrilled to be a sponsor and the exclusive supplier to several Mrs. America State beauty pageant organizations, and I was especially proud that one of our customers, Kristie Bear, won the Mrs. Idaho-America contest in 2011 wearing our Act II Suntan.

And a couple of months ago, Chanthy Birch won the Best Gown competition during this year’s Mrs. Idaho-America pageant, wearing our Act II Suntan.

Earlier this year, a former Mrs. Michigan-America, Stephanie Hunt, now the CEO of the MWI International (formerly, Ms. World International) beauty pageant organization, contacted ActSensuous with an invitation to become a sponsor.  MWI (Magnificent Women Icons) International celebrates beauty, elegance and sophiscation in highly accomplished women all over the world.

Wow, an international beauty pageant.  Where do we sign?A few months ago, we got an order from our first MWI delegate.  Here’s an excerpt from the email I received from her:

Hi Robin,
I just purchased six pairs of your pantyhose to be shipped to me in the UK.  Do you think they will get to me in England in time for the competition? I leave here on the 3rd of August.  Thanks,
Juanita

I assured Juanita that she would get her order in time, told her she was our first (and still only) MWI customer, and added: “I want pictures if you win.”

Here’s an excerpt from the subsequent email I got from Juanita:

Robin,
It just hit me that I never followed up with you to let you know that … I won!  I wore your hosiery the entire time – including the judges interview – and they gave me such confidence.  I also wore them during a photo shoot here in London shortly after the competition.  I absolutely LOVE them!!!   God bless,
Juanita Ingram

In keeping with our new “real girls in pantyhose” theme, meet Juanita Ingram, international beauty pageant winner and corporate lawyer.

The 5’3, 117 pound beauty is no novice when it comes to wearing pantyhose.  The native of Chattanooga, TN – now living in London – dresses professionally every day for her career as a business lawyer, and she says pantyhose are “a must.”

Juanita was crowned Ms. World International (known now as MWI International) eariler this year.
Juanita was crowned Ms. World International (known now as MWI International) eariler this year.

But it’s not only at work and during beauty pageants that Juanita, 35, dresses for success.  In fact, she is a volunteer at a Dress For Success organization, and she’s a motivational speaker for several organizations, including the Elevate Youth Conference, Dublin, Ireland; Girl’s Inc., Chattanooga, TN; as well as several organizations in Indianapolis, IN, including: Real World for Real Girls Conference; Project Concern; Indiana Healthy Marriage & Family Conference; Growing, Empowering, Myself, Strongly Conference; Dr. Betty Shabbaz Girl’s Academy Education Summit, and Girl’s Inc.

Indeed, Juanita practically lives in pantyhose.

“I love the confidence that pantyhose give me,” Juanita said.  “There is nothing worse than having to worry about a particular aspect of your look at any given moment.  When competing in beauty pageants, every aspect of your look is being examined – from head to toe.  Your confidence shows through on your face.  If you feel the least bit insecure about anything, the judges will see it.

“And the camera doesn’t lie.  You will be able to see it on film.  It’s amazingly true.  So for me, hosiery gives me that extra competitive edge that I need to know that my legs are looking their absolute best.  I don’t have to worry about it.

“I also feel that they make women look polished, sophisticated and complete.  I look at the starlets years ago and they just looked so pulled together and elegant.  I look at some of the women in the spotlight today who love hosiery and they just exude sophistication.

“In short, pantyhose help accessorize my confidence.”

The wife and mother (4-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son) said she first realized her love for pantyhose in her late 20s and early 30s, working in corporate America and in the legal field for more than 10 years.  She feels that, as a female lawyer, it’s crucial to exude a polished look, and she realized how “complete” a pair of pantyhose could make her feel.

Juanita Ingram prepares for the judges interview during the recent MWI International pageant.
Juanita Ingram prepares for the judges interview during the recent MWI International pageant.

Role models and friends also influenced Juanita.  She said she hangs with a very sophisticated crowd by design, believing that the people you surround yourself with either make you sharper or dumb you down.

“I began to notice that a lot of the more successful and influential women in my life had an element of class to them,” Juanita said.  “Of course, this was more than just their appearance.  It emanated from within.  But like any good accessory, I just noticed that they all chose to wear hosiery.  It added to what was a very polished and refined presence.”

Asked to describe the feeling she gets when slipping into a pair of sheer pantyhose, Juanita said:

“It’s a good feeling when they are light, smooth and comfortable.  I get a feeling of my look is perfected, that now, I am ready to step out.  I feel young, professional, classy and ready.”

In addition to family, friends and her own little crowd, Juanita credited some of her favorite celebrities for being devoted pantyhose wearers.  Living in London, of course, she said she adores Kate Middleton.  She also loves TV personality Wendy Willams, actress Tracee Ellis Ross, and lawyer, journalist and TV personality Star Jones – all frequent pantyhose wearers.

Juanita also praises entertainer Beyonce’ Knowles, and said she loves seeing many of today’s young stars, such as Emma Watson, Jessica Alba and Carrie Underwood, who are known for wearing pantyhose.

Asked about today’s bare legs culture, Juanita said she doesn’t believe pantyhose ever have, or ever will go out of style.

“I think there is a lot of pressure on women of all ages to yield to a bare legs trend,” she said.  “But if you feel good in hosiery, you should wear them.  It is just a matter of personal choice. I think you have to have a level of boldness and confidence to do what is best for yourself.

“To wear what makes you feel at your best is not easy when others are giving in to trends and fads that may not even be the most complimentary.  I think all women should be assured enough in who they are to step out in what suits them best.  For me, that’s a beautiful dress, killer heels, and a rockin’ pair of pantyhose.  I love it.  Hosiery will always be in style with me.”

Juanita Ingram says she has been inspired by accomplished women who always wear pantyhose.
Juanita Ingram says she has been inspired by accomplished women who always wear pantyhose.

Juanita doesn’t buy in to the current philosophy that pantyhose are irrelevant in today’s society, including at the office or formal settings.

Asked if she would always wear pantyhose to a job interview for a professional career opportunity, Juanita said:“I’d better.  If you want to be taken seriously in some of the more professional corporate environments that I work in, you need to always present yourself with class and sophistication.

It is a matter of professionalism.  I would never show up to a job interview, to court, or to a formal functon and not wear hosiery.  I just think you should be polished and respect yourself at all times.  I think wearing hosiery is a bonus that adds to our beauty.”

Even in the world of beauty pageants, Juanita said that sometimes fellow contestants ask her why she wears pantyhose, or try to discourage her from doing so.

“There are some who feel that you will get points taken away from you if you wear hosiery, or that the judges will see it as a sign of not being fit.  But I have shattered those beliefts.  I won several times while wearing hosiery.

“It’s about having the right sheer pantyhose like ActSensuous that still allows the beauty of your own legs to show through.  They act to accentuate, not hide, the beauty of your legs. I love them, and I think judges of Mrs. And Ms. pageant systems are coming around and finding a new respect for a great pair of hosiery.”

Just the facts

Age: 35

Height: 5′ 3″

Weight: 117 pounds

Ethnicity: African-American

Where born: Chattanooga, Tennessee

Live now: London, England

Favorite colors: Gold and ivory

Favorite song/favorite artist: CeCe Winans – Alabaster Box

Favorite movie alltime: Tie between “The Color Purple” and “Braveheart”

Your other awards/titles/honors:

JD/MBA – University of Memphis

LLM – University of London c/o 2014

Licensed to practice law (passed bar exams for TN and IN on first sitting)

Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honor Society Inductee (Top 10%)

Golden Key Member (Top 10%)

Tennessee Practice and Procedure Law Journal

Adjunct Pofessor of business law at Butler University

Chattanooga “Top 40 under 40” Award in 2003

Indiana Leadership in Law “Up & Coming Lawyer” Award in 2007

Published several articles in Legal Journals in 2004 through 2006 (Commercial Real Estate & Business Law)

Who’s Who in Black Indianapolis in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012

Covergirl & National Campiagn for Moms – Best for Babes Organiation 2010 to present (www.bestforbabes.org)

Mrs. Indiana United States 2007 (highest score in every category – interview, swimsuit, on-stage question, and evening gown)

Mrs. U.S. Beauties National Queen (highest score in every category – interview, high fashion, on-stage question, and evening gown)

First Runner-Up Mrs. Indiana America 2011 (Winner of Fitness/ Swimsuit award; Highest score in Interview)

Selected to Represent Great Britain at the 2011 Mrs. World international pageant competition

Founder: Happy To Be You Ministries (www.happy2bu.org)

Author: Winning With Christ: Finding Victory in Every Experience

The Wonderfully Made Pals Presents: Kind Kinsley

The Wonderfully Made Pals Presents: Confident Keynan

The Wonderfully Made Pals Presents: Wonderfully Made Wanita

Motivational Speaker:

Elevate Youth Conference – Dublin, Ireland

Real World for Real Girls Conference – Indianapolis, Indiana

Project Concern – Indianapolis, Indiana

Indiana Healthy Marriage & Family Conference – Indianapolis, Indiana

Growng , Empowering, Myself, Strongly (G.E.M.S.) Conference – Indianapolis, Indiana

Dr. Betty Shabbaz Girl’s Academy Education Summit – Indianapolis, Indiana

Girl’s Inc. – Indianapolis Indiana

Girl’s Inc. – Chattanooga, Tennessee

Juanita relaxes lounges in her home in London, wearing Act II Suntan.
Juanita lounges in her home in London, wearing Act II Suntan.

Getting to know …

The Q&A from the interview between Juanita Ingram and ActSensuous:

Who are your heroes or role models in life?

My grandmother; Michelle Obama; Lena Horne; Diane Carol, and most importantly, Jesus Christ.

What are your hobbies or interests?

I LOVE to travel.  Clearly, this is what led us as a family to live outside of the US for a while.  I absolutely love seeing new places and exploring different countries.  My favorite activities while traveling are eating, visiting art museums, and visiting historic cathedrals.  Some of my favorite cities are Seville, Spain; Florence, Italy; Crete, Greece; London; and Paris.  We try to visit three or four new countries a year – at least that is the goal while we are living abroad.

I also like exercising (or at least the benefits that come from exercising), and I love music. I grew up in a household of music (my mother is a retired school music teacher), and I learned to play the piano, piccolo and flute.  I also love to paint.

Most of all, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two children (ages 2 and 4).  I love taking them to new places and experiencing things through their eyes, such as going to the zoo, seeing a play, or visiting theme parks.  My husband and I still enjoy date night every week after eight years of marriage, and I just really enjoy being around family.What do you believe in (personal values)?

Jaunita prepares to leave for a Christmas party earlier this month in London.
Jaunita prepares to leave for a Christmas party earlier this month in London.

I am a Christian.  I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior.  My relationship with the Lord is very important to me.  I study the Word of God daily, and it is truly the guiding force in my life. I’ve written a book called “Wining with Christ: Finding the Victory in Every Experience” and I have written three Christian children’s books as part of my series, “The Wonderfully Made Pals.”  My relationship with the Lord is what sustains me through every season of life.

Of what are you most proud in your life?  What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in life?

I am most proud of being a wife, and most importantly, a mother. I have a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. There is nothing more important in my life than those two little angels. They are the best blessings that I have ever received. Beyond all of the other rewards that I have obtained, being a great mom is something that I will always be most proud of and continuously strive for.

What do you love most about the MWI International beauty pageant?

It focuses on celebrating magnificent women all over the world.  I love all of the women that I had an opportunity to get to know, and I love having an opportunity to help more women through the work that I do with my charity of choice: Dress For Success Worldwide, and my personal platform/organization – Happy To Be You (www.happy2bu.org).

Juanita Ingram sets the right example as she prepares to leave for a
Juanita Ingram sets the right example as she prepares to leave for a “Dress For Success” event earlier this month.

The only reason I compete in pageants is to have greater opportunities to be of service to women and young girls who are in need of encouragement and a boost in confidence.

I am truly committed and passionate about my platform.  It is the only reason that I continue to strive to have titles in the world of pageantry.  It is more than just a hobby for me – it is an avenue and a form of ministry and true service.

My primary goal is to have an international platform to help women and young girls have increased confidence and self-esteem.  When we feel better about ourselves, we perform better in life, we make better decisions and we are able to accomplish our dreams.

I’ve been extremely blessed to have women in my life who have sowed into my self-worth. I want to be that person for as many women as I possibly can.

Please describe your journey from entering this year’s beauty pageant to being crowned Ms. MWI International 2012, and what the honor means to you

First, let me say that wearing ActSensuous through every stage of the competition, from interview to swimsuit, gave me that extra boost of confidence that made all the difference in the world.  I knew that my legs looked their best.  Your hosiery is a PERFECT match to my skintone and they are truly sheer to waist – which is a MUST during the swimsuit competition.  I don’t know what I would have done without them during the competition and I greatly appreciate your willingness to be an official sponsor with the system.

I think a lot of people would be surprised to find out just how hard it is to win an international beauty pageant.  You don’t just waltz in and blow the judges away and obtain the scores that I did without a lot of thought, hard work and dedication.  What is most important is being true and authentic to why you are there and what you plan to do with the title.  I am always confident in my pageant interviews because I know that I am coming from an authentic place.  Integrity, honesty, consistency and truthfulness are characteristics that make you a winner in my book.  I think that’s what a lot of judges look for.

Most systems attribute 50% of your score to interview. So while it is still a “beauty” pageant, it is far more important to focus on who you are as a person than anything else.  You have to have a vision and purpose for wanting the title.  When I signed up to compete, I wanted a title that would have enough significance and recognition to open more doors internationally for me to help more women and youth.  It was as simple as that for me.

Once I was crowned, I hit the ground running and I put in a lot of time, effort, and work to obtain international appearances that would further the purpose of my platform.  I made more than 10 appearances with the first 60 days. That’s more than some queens do during an entire reign!  I’ve always been a self-starter and I’ve had a lot of drive since my youth.  Thus far, it has been a great growing experience and has even shown me that with or without a particular title, I can create opportunities for me to help women and youth in some really impactful ways.

In 2013, I will continue on my book tour and continue my international service through Dress For Success, especially at the London affiliate.  It is an honor to be in the position to help so many, and I attribute that purely to God’s grace and favor upon my life.  We are indeed blessed to be a blessing to others.

Final thoughts

Juanita Ingram surely is a wonderful ambassador for beauty pageants, for groups devoted to enhancing women’s lives, and for pantyhose lovers everywhere.

My thanks to Juanita for taking the time to share her story with us.

Also, I’d like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and much happiness in 2013.

13 thoughts on “Pageant winner, devoted pantyhose wearer lives life of beauty

  • I know this is a previous post, but I had to respond. I finished reading about that gorgeous Nubian empress, Juanita Ingram. A talented and successful Black woman who is truly devoted to wearing pantyhose, which is the zenith of her copacetic fashion sense. It’s wonderful to still see some Black women in pantyhose, because nowadays… it’s almost nil. Juanita is the ultimate paragon of femininity, elegance, sophistication, beauty, intelligence, diligence, and family devotion. And most importantly, she’s a follower of Christ, which impresses me even more. Her husband is a very fortunate man indeed to have such a remarkable woman as his wife. My wish is to find such a woman… and not because she wears pantyhose, per se.

    Belated Congrats to Juanita for her pageant victory. She is truly a Black woman who makes me look real good and feel very proud. And thanks to you, Robin, for posting this wonderful story. I hope we have more stories like this in 2013… And beyond. One love always.

    • Thanks for your comment, Michael. Juanita is a wonderful role model for all women because she’s all about professionalism, class and elegance. She truly is a devoted wearer of pantyhose – as she understands its inherent values of beauty and femininity. And, she is a tireless advocate for positive issues and a motivator to improve women’s lives, yet she still finds time to be a devoted wife and mother.

      By the way, there is no time limit for commenting on any of the posts that so inspire you. All comments appear under the appropriate post and stand as part of the record, so please always feel free to weigh in on any story you like.

      Thanks again, Michael, and best wishes to you.

  • Great interview with Juanita Ingram. This woman knows a lot about true class and professionalism when she wears pantyhose at beauty pageants and various events. Even though Michelle Obama is one Juanita’s heroes and rolemodels, it would be nice if she gave Mrs. Obama advice about wearing hosiery to enhance her professionalism with her fashion style as a U.S. First Lady.

    • Hi Brian W.

      I know. I cringed when she listed Michelle Obama as someone she admires. At least, Juanita has the sense, professionalism and class to wear pantyhose in her career as a business lawyer, an international beauty pageant winner and a motivational speaker, even though Obama doesn’t as our First Lady.

  • Congrats to Juanita for winning the International beauty pageant and for setting an example for lots of women for true style, professionalism, and class by wearing pantyhose. Merry Christmas Robin and a prosperous 2013 to you and your family.

  • A great blog again, Robin. You keep hitting them out of the park. And it goes with out saying, Merry Christmas to you and all the best.

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