Q&A: UGA student Isabella Bloedorn talks pageantry, environmental awareness | Arts & Culture


To many students at the University of Georgia, environmental awareness might look like sharing infographics, recycling a Jittery Joe’s coffee cup after a morning lecture and carrying canvas tote bags to the grocery store — but one student is using her platform to go beyond the ordinary to help the environment.

Freshman entertainment and media studies major Isabella Bloedorn was crowned Teen Miss Georgia Earth in June. The Miss Earth USA pageant produces winners or “beauties for a cause” that are dedicated to raising awareness for and making an impact on environmental causes, according to their website.

Bloedorn is from Acworth, Georgia, where she grew up with her parents and her fraternal twin brother, Dominic. Bloedorn began competing in pageants in her freshman year of high school, and now, only four years after she found her start, represents Georgia on the national level.

The Red & Black spoke with Bloedorn to discuss her pageantry, aspirations and passion for environmental justice.

The Red & Black: What first led you to get involved in pageantry?

Isabella Bloedorn: High school is when I actually tried my first real pageant, but I will say that I did try one when I was nine — and I absolutely hated it. I also modeled when I was little, so when I got to be a freshman in high school I wanted to get back into modeling. I told my mom that and she said, “Why don’t you try a pageant?” I had just made homecoming court, so she told me she would buy me this dress I really wanted for homecoming if you go to this pageant.

We signed up for the first pageant we found online — I was the youngest you could be to sign up. What we didn’t know was that it was the Miss Georgia Teen USA pageant, which is the hardest pageant in the state. I was a disaster — I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t do my hair, I wasn’t interested in makeup. Despite not doing well, I made the top 15 and decided to go back the next year and I ended up winning Miss Georgia Teen 2019 when I was only 15 years old.

R&B: You have a myriad of interests outside of pageants such as acting and writing — what do you see yourself doing after college?

IB: I have a lot of long-term goals, but luckily they all tie into each other. Pageantry is definitely something that I want to keep doing when I’m an adult … the dream is to go to Miss Universe. Beyond that I definitely want some sort of career in the entertainment industry. I would love to be able to make a living off of modeling and acting, but I do also have a passion for videography and editing.

EMST is almost all production, which is why I chose that major. Writing used to be my dream job … I’m not writing a ton right now, but I would definitely like to be a published author before I graduate college.

R&B: How has your ethnicity shaped your career choices or your pageantry?

IB: I would be lying to myself if I tried to say that my ethnicity hasn’t caused a little bit of a struggle in my industry. I’m aware that when it comes to social standards I still fit the beauty standard, but I don’t think that I fit the Southern beauty standards. It’s crazy how many times I’ve talked to agents and they just don’t understand anything about ethnicity or race. One asked me, ‘Are you white or Latino?” I was confused, because I’m both — white is my race and Latino is my ethnicity … most of the time, agents will just put me down as ‘ethnically ambiguous,’ which is a new term for when people can’t look at you and immediately tell what you are.

It’s very strange — I have a job right now where the agent was definitely looking for someone Italian, but I have the facial structure he wanted so I got the job. When [agents] are looking for someone who isn’t a Southern belle, they’re just looking for someone who is very generally ethnic.

R&B: What are your philanthropic passions and when did you first become interested in environmental awareness and activism?

IB: I really found my love for [philanthropy] through pageantry. Originally, when I was in the Teen USA system, I had a focus on gender inequality because I feel like I have a really unique perspective on it as someone who grew up with a twin brother. My brother and I always loved all of the same things — it wasn’t until high school that I noticed we were being treated differently.

While I was always aware of environmental issues, it wasn’t until I got involved in the Miss Earth system that I started to focus on environmental issues. I’ve always had severe asthma — I have a daily inhaler, a rescue inhaler, my breathing treatment and a dehumidifier in my dorm room just to make sure that I can breathe every day. [These struggles] are what inspired me to start the platform I have now, [Earth’s Lungs,] because it’s very personal to me.

[Earth’s Lungs] is all about air quality. I know what it’s like to struggle to breathe on a daily basis, and it’s getting to the point where people who shouldn’t have to worry about just breathing are [having to worry] because we’re just not focused on air quality and this is especially true in the COVID-19 pandemic. One person can’t single-handedly end air pollution, but I can spread awareness and education about it.



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