Meet Mrs. Alabama United States: Hartselle woman uses title to address bullying
By Catherine Godbey
For the Enquirer
In the beginning, 37 years ago, the makeup, the Shirley Temple-esque ringlet curls and the sparkly dresses attracted Dana Bean to pageants.
But now, the hobby that allowed Bean to play dress-up has transformed into an outreach opportunity for the reigning Mrs. Alabama United States, who finished in the top 10 at the Mrs. United States pageant in October.
“I sound like my answer is ‘world peace,’ but the biggest thing I feel like we need to do is love one another. That would solve the bulk of the problems we have in this world,” the Hartselle woman said. “I want people to get into the habit of loving and serving one another. I want that to be second nature.”
To accomplish that, the 40-year-old Bean organized the group On Wednesdays We Wear Pink — a nod to the Tina Fey movie “Mean Girls.”
Established last year, the anti-bullying and mentoring campaign serves as Bean’s platform. The group consists of 52 members, ages 4-41, from Alabama and Tennessee – the Pink Ambassadors.
Bean, who owns and operates Queen B Studios, a photography and pageant business, formed the group after she noticed how many of the young girls she worked with experienced bullying.
“When they are in my chair, and I’m getting them ready, I noticed they would spend a lot of time on their devices, and I would see they were being bullied on social media,” Bean said. “I wanted the Pink Ambassadors to not only include the girls being bullied but also the girls doing the bullying. I wanted to them to see each other for who they really are.”
Bean made community service a key component of the group. The group has served lunch to the homeless at Hands Across Decatur, participated in community clean-up days, written cards to nursing home residents and painted positive messages on rocks and hidden them around town.
“I hope it will continue to grow. I think it will because bullying is pretty prevalent, especially among adolescent girls. I think everyone has experienced bullying in one form or another. We all know how it feels to feel excluded and made fun of,” Bean said.
Bean discussed On Wednesdays We Wear Pink in a national setting last month when she represented Alabama at the Mrs. United States pageant.
For Bean, competing in the national pageant represented the fulfillment of a life-long dream that started at the age of 3 in the small farming community of Eva.
“My mom signed me up for my first pageant on a whim. She knew I was into girly, glam things,” Bean said. “I immediately fell in love with it. It was like being princess for a day. Pageants were not as big back then as they are now, but they were a lot of fun.”
As a child, she competed in two to three pageants a year, participating in the beauty walk at Brewer High School and earning scholarship money for college. After her freshman year at Auburn University, where she studied poultry science, Bean, who works as a poultry health technician with the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, stopped competing. She remained off the pageant circuit until last year.
“I have a lot of little girls I help get ready for pageants. I go and cheer them on and root for them. They kept saying, ‘You have to do a pageant with us,’” she said. “I entered last year’s Mrs. Alabama United States pageant on a whim, finished as first alternate and got the fever again. I remembered how much fun I had and how confident I felt doing them.”
In June Bean earned the title of Mrs. Alabama United States, along with the community service and congeniality awards. At the national pageant, which featured 27 states, judges scored the contestants on interview, swimwear, evening gown, on-stage question and state costume. For her costume, Bean dressed as a Talladega NASCAR driver.
Among Bean’s supporters are her parents, husband, three children, directors Naomi Jones and Doreena Mink, and Brianna Sistrunk, the 2019 Mrs. Alabama United States.
“I was very honored to have represented Alabama and made it to the top 10,” Bean said. “I feel like everyone should try pageants at least once. I know it gets a bad rap sometimes, but my experience has been very positive. I gained scholarship money, friends for a lifetime, a career and confidence. I’m so thankful for all the opportunities pageantry has given me.”