Monday, December 13, 2010

"The Nutcracker" ballerina criticized for weight

Unbelievable. Having just watched "The Nutcracker" in Annapolis this weekend, I found recent press around Jennifer Ringer (of the New York City Ballet) and her weight by the Times to be particularly upsetting.

There are certainly similarities between dance and pageantry. Our bodies are part of the art, a portion of the competition...which opens the gates of criticism. But when someone has already brought her struggles with anorexia to light, is it really necessary to comment on her weight?

It's sad that a Christmas tradition has been spoiled by this insensitivity-- but let's use this as a jumping off point for increased dialogue and continued support for not only this ballerina, but all women who have been hurt by social pressures.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Miss Arizona USA 2011

So basically former United States queens are dominating USA this year. Congrats Susie (Miss Virginia Teen USA) and Courtney (Miss South Carolina USA)!! See you in Las Vegas!

Best of luck to Tiffany Martin (Miss US class of 2009 and former Miss AZ Teen USA) at Miss Arizona USA 2011 this weekend!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Miss Maryland USA 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year-- USA pageant season! Congratulations to the new Miss Maryland USA 2011-- Allyn Rose and Miss Maryland Teen USA 2011-- Kirsten Nicholson.

Photos below are of Miss Maryland USA 2010 Simone Feldman and two of my faves Courtney and Mandi and Top 5.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Healthy is the new Skinny

Facebook invitations, group suggestions, events, etc typically get ignored (sorry!)...BUT Healthy is the new Skinny was definitely up my alley! The following excerpts and photo are from their fb page:

"What is Healthy is the New Skinny? This is not about a size. It’s about a movement.Healthy is the New Skinny is about revolutionizing the values of the fashion industry. It’s about putting happiness and vibrant good health first and foremost. Generations of young women have assessed their own worth by how far they are from the ideal of unrealistic thinness...

Healthy is the New Skinny is partnering with acclaimed designer Jessica Svoboda, whose breakthrough denim styles for straight and “plus size” figures are catching attention across the country...

What can you do?1. Buy a Healthy is the New Skinny t-shirt. All proceeds will go towards Jessica Svoboda’s show. If you want to see a healthy revolution in fashion wear a t-shirt -- and be our spokesmodel! 2. Tell friends and family to join us on Facebook and follow our progress. New York Fashion Week won’t let designers know if they’ve been chosen until two weeks before. As the remark about elephants makes clear, there are powerful figures in the industry who don’t want to see models like ours on the runways. The more excitement we can build about Healthy is the New Skinny and Jessica’s line, the more pressure we can bring to bear on the industry to open Fashion Week to our vision.3. Embrace the Healthy is the New Skinny message. In our hearts, we know that this is the direction the fashion industry needs to go. This is about liberation, this is about self-acceptance, this is about celebrating happiness and health. You know it’s the right thing."

I've ordered mine, have you?!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Beauties of America

Nothing but the best of luck to my sister queen, Radiah, Miss Virginia 30's as she competes at Beauties of America Nationals this week!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jennifer Love Hewitt Advises Girls to "Love the way you look."

I just love when celebrities make the news, not for late night shenanigans but instead to spread a positive image-- particularly regarding body image. posted a great article this morning, featuring Jennifer Love Hewitt of Party of Five fame.

For the full article see,,,20391967_20394266,00.html

"In a world that's overly focused on body image, Jennifer Love Hewitt is
urging young women not to obsess about weight – because it's simply not worth

"When I meet young girls, I'm always like, 'Just do me one favor,' " she
tells PEOPLE in its new issue. "Love what you look like right now – and remember
I said it 10 years from now because it's the greatest gift I can give."

Having already witnessed first-hand how tough it can be to love your own
figure – the 31-year-old spoke out against critics in December 2007 when
unflattering photos of her on the beach surfaced – Hewitt says she first focused
on getting a mind makeover."

Monday, May 31, 2010

Miss Teen Philippines 2010

Happy Memorial Day weekend! I'll be spending most of the day recuperating from what was a beautiful evening in Crystal City for the 25th Anniversary of the Ilocano Society of America. Embedded in the celebration was the Miss Teen Philippines 2010 Pageant aka where my pageant career started, almost an entired decade ago! Wow!

And so begins the part of my life I"ll refer to as "Pageant Retirement." I still anticipate on speaking on behalf of "No Body's Perfect," but instead of entering competitions myself, I've got a few pageants on my calendar to judge! Looking forward to WATCHING Miss DC America, Miss Maryland's Outstanding Teen (and watch my sister queen Emily Pettine rock the stage in her MAO debut!) as well. It's going to be a great summer.

Thanks to my sister queen Radiah for filling in for the interview portion of this week's pageant and being my off stage entertainment during last night's show. Hello to my fellow judge and 2001 Miss Teen Philippines Christelle Chen :)

I could describe the night but you just had to be there! Enjoy the photos below of my table (including the President of ISA and other dignitaries), Raf aka the Emcee aka the Speaks frontman, and of course the newly crowned Miss Teen Philippines 2010:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pro Ana Sites

Recently, I was asked about my stance on Pro Ana (for Anorexia or Pro Mia for Bulimia) websites.

First I must say that yes, it has been through a unique vehicle that I’ve been able to contribute to a world greater than myself. And that is pageantry and my foundation, No Body’s Perfect. The biggest criticism I have received during my reign is that the media and arenas such as pageantry, or modeling are the things that are fueling the very thing I am trying to defeat.
And those are all very valid concerns, but in fact, for me the title of Miss Maryland has served as a giant microphone for increasing awareness of the severity and the prevalence of eating disorders in the United States, particularly within the state.

Over 10 million women in this country are struggling from anorexia and or bulimia. 90% of those women are between the age of 12 and 25. And 15% of all women in the United Sates who are NOT diagnosed with an eating disorder display substantially disordered eating attitudes and behaviors.

Now, back to the websites. For those of you that are not familiar, pro ana sites provide visitors to the page tips and tricks to being thin-- links to miracle diets or body cleansing products, "inspiration" photos or videos of themselves or supermodels with unattainable figures for most teens or young adults, purging secrets, and on and on. Over 6.5 M of these websites exist worldwide.

I find it extremely sad that these "communities" exist. As you can imagine, they build a FALSE sense of support. Instead of being a haven to discuss the illness, they are rooted in the promotion of unhealthy behaviors and are a marketplace for swapping destructive attitudes. Contradictory to what these websites advertise, eating disorders are NOT a lifestyle choice.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Loyola University Maryland Women Emerging Leaders Conference

I couldn't have been happier to have ended my reign with a keynote address at the Loyola University Maryland Women Emerging Leaders Conference (say that five times fast!). Thank you to Sara Scalzo and the planning committee at Loyola for the kind invitation and all attendees who braved the rain storms!

Rarely this year did I get nervous speaking in front of an audience -- but there was something about this event that was different. Because it wouldn't be about nutrition necessarily, or even being Miss Maryland... it was just about me, and how my personal struggle had in fact become my biggest success.

What I offered was my story, in the hopes that it would serve as a precursor to discovering their best selves-- I brought excerpts from old journals (the exercising diaries, calorie counting, etc), and described the day I knew everything had changed and I entered an eating disorder treatment facility. 4 years later I found myself in a position to make a difference.

These speaking engagements have been extremely therapeutic for my own life and my ability to sustain a healthy weight and more importantly, a positive mind. It is often believed that eating disorders are not something you are magically cured of, no matter how much counseling you have endured, no matter how much weight you have gained. It’s almost disheartening to think that I may never been fully cured. It has and will always be a part of me. And so looking beyond my term as Miss Maryland it has become clear to me that volunteerint and public speaking have become essential parts of my brand. In their reflection, the women were urged to think of their own brand-- who they are and what they believe and value.

Thank you for your candid questions and feedback-- it was my pleasure!

At the end of it all, "keep striving. Keep learning. Don't ever be done climbing. "

~Nicole Ortiz, MBA '09

Saturday, March 6, 2010

MHS Charm City Gala

From a performance of Good Morning Baltimore to Hons and a city scape that spanned the entire school, it was as if I had stepped onto the set of Hairspray-- my first Charm City Magic Gala was so much fun I can't believe I hadn't been in the six years it's been held at Mercy High School. I even won a silent auction item for a spa treatment at the Federal Hill Massage and Wellness Center and a gift certificate to M Salon, also in Federal Hill.

An additional live auction and various raffles and donations alone, by my count should have raised over $30,000 toward the school and tuition assistance for families who have been challenged by the recession.

Thank you to all attendees, student volunteers, bidders, sponsors, Board of Trustees and the Alumni board for your support and dedication to MHS. What a great night to celebrate the successes of alumni and the anticipation of what the future holds for graduates-to be. I am already marking my calendar for next year's Gala and Mercy's 50th Anniversary!
Xoxo, Nicole c/o 2001

Photos below are of mercy girls, the high anticipated puppy, fave faculty and SMAS:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

GSCM Around the World on Thinking Day 2010

This year's GSCM Around the World on Thinking Day was held at the Seton Keough High School in Baltimore. Headed down Caton Avenue I recall the first and only other time I had been there, the fall of 8th grade (seems like a million years ago!) before I decided to attend Mercy High School in Towson.

Throughout the morning, the gymnasium quickly turned into an international fair-- World Thinking Day was created in 1926 at the Fourth International Conference. The delegates to the conference decided there should be a special day when Girl Scouts all over the world think of each other and give thanks and appreciation to their "sister" Scouts.

I had the fun task of being the Mistress of Ceremonies for the day's events-- cultural dance performances in the theatre, Daisy pin ceremony (an official induction into the organization), SWAP ceremony (during which the girls traded hand made pins with other troops as a momento of the celebration and friendship), presentations by the Peace Corps and more.

A special hello to Mercy High School representatives who sponsored a booth at the event-- see you at the Gala next month :)

Photos below are of a group of Daisies after their pin ceremony, the Philippines and Germany troop booths.

Phew! What a fun day!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

National Eating Disorders Awareness Month

For various reasons (ahem, the flu. and they are typically outdated by upwards of 2 years), I rarely pick up the magazine available at the gym. But today I couldn't help but peek into the newest issue of Glamour, in all its glossy, untattered glory with Victoria Beckam on the cover.

February is National Eating Disorder Awareness month. Often criticized for her size (not suggesting she suffers from the diseases herself), I would have appreciated someone with a more relatable frame. That being said, the magazine DOES offer a great feature on related topics, namely "What eating disorders do to your body."

A few of the consequences highlighted include:

Infertility Not having enough body fat can halt ovulation. In your teens this may be the least of your problems-- no fat, no baby, no problem! The good news is that for women in recovery and those that have gotten healthy, fertility returns without any lingering problems.

Heart Problems With heart health also in mind this month, anorexia can lead to cardiac arrest. Fortunately again, any damage is reversible once a health weight is reached and maintained.

Tooth Loss More related to those suffering from bulimia, stomach acid erods tooth enamel, causing cavities and tooth lost. I can absolutely empathize with this point-- dentures in your thirties is not a road you want to go down!

For more consequences, pick up the issue at your newstand, refer to!

Baltimore Sun "Scene and Heard"

Thank you to photographer Colby Ware for the lovely photo and feature in the Baltimore Sun's Scene and Heard gallery!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

19th Annual Chocolate Affair

Per an invitation from fashion designer Victor Rossi, I along with America's Miss 2009 Caroline Kuhlman and the newly crowned America's Miss Maryland 2010 Alison Tripple, attended a benefit for Healthcare for the Homeless (HCH). Outfitted in beautiful gowns, we sampled treats from over 50 of the city's best restaurants, caterers and chocolatiers, mingled with attendees as well as tv, radio and print personalities.

By the way if you've never had chocolate covered BACON, it was surprisingly yum-o! Kind of like a salty/sweet chocolate covered pretzel, genius!

Hailed as one of Baltimore's premier fundraisers, the 19th Annual Chocolate Affair did not disappoint. What started as a meeting of local leaders concerned about poverty and homelessness in the city has outgrown its roots to occupy the entire club level of M&T Bank Stadium. Last year the event raised $165,000 for the healthcare needs for the homeless. Many thanks to the vendors and supporters of HCH, the proceeds of tonight's event will allow Maryland families to become self sufficient.

Over the years HCH has witnessed the number of people seeking their services rise. In addition to direct health-related services, HCH advocates for an end to poverty and homelessness at both the local and national levels.
To learn more about the organization please visit their website:

Photos below are of the queens and chefs from Chef's Expressions, Baltimore Business Journal's Jerry Caplan and Victor Rossi:


Due to the incoming snow storm, the Macy's and American Heart Association Go Red for Women Fashion Show and Health Fair scheduled for this Saturday has been postponed until February 27, 2010. I hope you all can still attend this important event.

Thank you again to Jane Trader and the staff at Macy's for pulling some great looks for me today and for remembering me from last year's event!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

100 Questions & Answers About Anorexia Nervosa

Over the years I have picked up several books and literature on the topic of eating disorders. They piled up in the back of my closet until recently when I placed them on the shelf right next to my summer reads and study guides. Instead of quietly watching others go through the same struggle, I invite a dialogue on the subject.

Earlier in the week I mentioned CNN's feature on eating disorders in young children. The publishers of "100 Questions & Answers about Anorexia Nervosa" have generously offered a free copy to one of my readers. If you are interested, please send me an email with your address and they will forward you a copy of this great resource. It is a must read for patients, friends and relatives who are interested in learning about and fighting this condition. From warning signs to practical suggestions on helping someone, I highly recommend looking for this at your nearest bookstore.

Many thanks again to Dr. Shepphird and Ollie Media for making this information available and your continued efforts.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Eating disorders in young children

CNN recently featured an important Q&A about the diagnosis of eating disorders in young children. As a child with an eating disorder turned young woman with a distorted image of self, I can say that fears of gaining weight, a deepening interest in physical activity and overall preoccupation with mirrors and the body are causes for concern.

Author of "100 Questions and Answers about Anorexia Nervosa, Dr. Shepphird reports that "the majority of new cases of anorexia are diagnosed between the ages of 13 and 18, about 10 percent of patients with eating disorders show an onset of their symptoms before age 10, and eating disorders have been reported in children as young as 5." FIVE!?

If you or your child need help discerning being a 'picky eater' from early signs of a disorder, I recommend speaking to a medical professional. Eating disorders are multifaceted medical conditions that are often frightening for both individuals and families. I personally benefited from the services at the Center for Eating Disorders at Shepperd Pratt, a leading provider of treatment in the region since 1989.

For more information on eating disorders, getting help and additional resources, visit:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Macy's Go Red for Women

With February in sight, it is important to note that it is a month for matters of the heart. Yes, Valentines Day, but more importantly heart health awareness.

For the second year in a row, I will be taking part in the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign which celebrates the energy, passion and power of women to band together and wipe out heart disease - the No. 1 killer of women. Go Red For Women is nationally sponsored by Macy's.

Join me at Towson Town Center outside the department store on the 2nd and 3rd floors for a fashion show (thank you to Lana from KIS for the appearance opportunity and the other models for their time) and health fair next Saturday, February 6!

For more information, ways to support AHA and steps to leading a better life, please visit their website:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Loyola University 2010 Emerging Women's Leadership Conference

After my feature in Loyola magazine hit the streets, I was inundated with appearance requests and messages of support from alums, colleagues and community leaders-- but one speaking engagement stood out-- being the key note speaker for this year's Loyola University Maryland Emerging Women's Leadership Conference.

I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a planning meeting and it is with great anticipation (and a little bit of fear!) that I start to prepare for my speech. The day will focus on celebrating women as leaders, challenge gender issues in the workplace and community and at a minimum, serve as the networking event of the year.

People often ask how my experience at Loyola has been and, now that I've officially received my MBA, what my plans are going forward. In addition to receiving my degree, I've worked to increase my self awareness, reflect on my strengths and define what I want the rest of my life to look like, both personally and professionally.

For those who know me, know that I am a huge book worm. Over winter break, I read one of my Christmas gifts-- "The Secret." I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to take control of their future. I am also re-reading "Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman," a copy of which I received before leaving KPMG.

If anyone has any other reading suggestions that are targeted toward goal setting, women in leadership, self actualization, etc please pass them along!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year

As we ring in the new year, I am filled with so many emotions as the end of my journey nears. Since May I have been overwhelmed with the unique opportunity to live my dream, gaining so many fun memories and lovely friends and supporters along the way. It has been a door opened by God that exceeded anything I imagined.

I wish you and those I have yet to meet during my reign continued blessings.

Cheers to 2010.