by MIKE CHAIKEN
Dare Taylor had gotten to be pretty good at being first runner-up, much to her chagrin.
In a Zoom interview from her home in Los Angeles, Taylor said “I have been a big pageant person since I was 10.”
But most times, Taylor said, she would find herself picking up second place honors while someone else walked away with the crown and sash.
And that pattern continued through to the first time Taylor competed for Miss Bikini US in 2018. In her debut at the pageant, she was first runner-up again… losing out by just one judge’s vote.
However, Taylor returned the following year. This time, the venture was a success. She won the title of Miss Bikini Model 2019.
And due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cancelled the 2020 pageant scheduled for Miami, Taylor held on to the title for an extra year.
This July, however, Taylor will have to relinquish the title at last when she crowns her successor during Miami Swim Week in Florida.
Taylor explained she has been entering pageants since she was young. Describing herself as shy when she was a child, Taylor said she started entering pageants to help bolster her self-confidence and to build up her interpersonal skills.
“I loved attention but I didn’t know how to get it (in an appropriate manner),” said Taylor.
Taylor said she competed for seven years- firmly entrenched in the world of the first runner-up- before deciding she needed a break.
Then at 18, Taylor tried again. This time, she broke her first runner-up curse. She was crowned Miss Teen Minnesota.
After that victorious moment, Taylor said she took another break from pageants. She said she got “busy with the ‘real world’ thing.”
The pageant universe though came calling again for Taylor when she “stumbled across” the Miss Bikini US pageant on Instagram.
The event intrigued her, said Taylor. So she did her “due diligence” and researched the organization. She said she liked what she learned about the program.
Taylor said Miss Bikini US is not about just one particular contestant winning. It’s about building a community among the contestants, a “Bikini Tribe,” she said.
Unfortunately, Taylor’s first venture with Miss Bikini US found her earning first runner-up honors once again.
Taylor said she had fun at the event, but she also was hurt by getting so close to the title but still ending up in second place. She reached out to the executive director and asked for some insight into what she did wrong. The director instead redirected the conversation and urged Taylor to come back again the following year. Taylor said she was told the judges were impressed by her stage presence. More importantly, Taylor said the director was impressed by her willingness to help the other contestants when asked.
That praise for her good deeds changed Taylor’s whole perception of pageants. She realized there was more to the competition than just winning a crown and sash. It was about building community spirit among her fellow contestants.
With this revelation, Taylor said she entered to compete in 2019. However, rather than going into beat her competition, Taylor said she went into the event looking to challenge herself.
The redirected goal paid off for Taylor. With a new focus, Taylor found herself winning the national title.
Other than the change in philosophy for her second time around, Taylor said she couldn’t point out a “secret sauce” that made her preparations more effective in 2019. Like the previous year, since it is a bikini contest, she worked out to get more fit. But she didn’t prepare any more or less diligently the year she won.
For those titleholders seeking tips from Taylor on her preparation approach, she created a video for YouTube.
Like most titleholders across the world, Taylor found that the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to wear her a crown a year longer than expected. The July 2020 competition was canceled.
Taylor said she’s a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. If she had won her first year in the pageant, she wouldn’t have had the privilege to hold the title for an additional year.
“It tested my quick thinking skills,” said Taylor of the lockdown necessitated second year as Miss Bikini Model 2019. As the titleholder, she couldn’t make personal appearances. She had to improvise virtually to serve the community. So, for example, she worked with the program to hold “Stories for Snacks.” The fundraiser collected $3,000 to help buy groceries for people who lost their jobs during the pandemic.
“I’m so grateful we didn’t do a virtual pageant (so I could give up the crown),” said Taylor. That process wouldn’t have been fair to her successor, said Taylor.
The title has had some professional perks for Taylor, who has ambitions to get into film. Since she is Miss Bikini US, for instance, she was able to walk in New York Fashion Week, even though she’s just 5’4″. (Models typically have to be 5’7 and up.) She also has been featured in magazine spreads. And it has opened up other doors in the world of entertainment.
Although she will be surrendering her title in July, Taylor said her pageant days are not exactly behind her. She will be traveling to Mexico to compete in an international pageant… an opportunity made possible by Miss Bikini US but that also was placed on hold due to COVID-19.
For information about Miss Bikini US, visit MissBikiniUS.com.
For information about Dare Taylor, visit her YouTube channels.