Kayla Hardimon being crowned as Miss Black Ohio

Photo courtesy of: Kayla Hardimon

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Journalism student is Miss Black Ohio; now vying for Miss Black USA

Kayla Hardimon wants girls to discover their value, potential

While it is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Ohio University junior Kayla Hardimon, the new Miss Black Ohio USA, said she believes that every woman is beautiful.  

Hardimon, an Indianapolis, Ind., native studying journalism, won the annual Miss Black Ohio USA competition in Cincinnati on Oct. 24, using the platform "A Woman's Worth." She performed a contemporary dance routine in the talent portion of the competition and won three of the five judged categories.

Hardimon said her goal is to inspire girls between the ages of 12 and 18 by helping them realize their value and potential. She said her platform was inspired by a national study that revealed only 4 percent of women around the world consider themselves "beautiful." 

"I believe that a woman's worth is something that many people, especially the women themselves, fail to understand," Hardimon said. "I want to take away the false images of external beauty and teach these girls that their true beauty is within them."

As Miss Black Ohio USA, Hardimon will travel to numerous cities in the state, visiting schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, churches, Girls Scout troops and many other organizations. She said she will use these appearances to promote self-confidence, goal setting and an understanding of true beauty.

"It took a while for me to feel like I was beautiful," Hardimon said. "Between the ages of 12 and 15 are especially crucial for young girls. That is when you can still reach them and change their thinking."

Hardimon aims to speak to more than 500 girls during her year of service. She also wants to stimulate conversations and develop long-lasting relationships around the state.

Brandi Baker, coordinator of Multicultural Retention Services in the Office for Multicultural Student Access and Retention at Ohio University, said Hardimon will be a great Miss Black Ohio representative.
"Kayla has been a great role model to our students in her role as a LINKS peer advisor," Baker said. "Her honesty, integrity, character and passion stand out. She is an example of the positive impact that outstanding leadership, scholarship and service can have on a college campus, because she implements these things in her day-to-day activities."
The Miss Black Ohio title was a surprise to Hardimon, who is new to the beauty pageant circuit. She had no formal pageant training entering the competition, and she credits her win to God.

"All of my strength comes through Him," she said. "I said a prayer before the pageant, and it helped me get through it. I'm proud of who I am and what I've done."

After she completes her bachelor's degree, Hardimon aspires to attend law school on her way to securing a state representative position. She is also considering a two-year stint with Teach for America after graduation.

Hardimon's next competition is the Miss Black USA pageant this summer. In order to compete, she must raise money for her air fare, hotel, clothing and other expenses.

She said she is counting on her family, friends and the Ohio University community to contribute to her fundraising campaign, which also must raise enough money to buy two $500 one-page ads in the Miss Black USA pageant program. 

"I know that there are so many wonderful things that I can accomplish if I have the proper means," Hardimon said. "So many people have poured into me over the years; now I want to do the same for others."
Anyone interested in donating to Hardimon's campaign can email her at kh256709@ohio.edu or kaylahardimon@gmail.com.