The Molalla Woman’s Pageant Journey Provides Inspiration For Others In Oregon

Kayla Gathright learns that encouraging other women to be “authentically themselves” on stage is liberating and uplifting.

The realm of pageants offered a Molalla lady the ability to alter public notions of what it entails and open doors for other women who might be waiting outside.

American Kayla Gathright As the winner of Miss Oregon for America Strong in 2022, a Navy reservist found exactly that opportunity through the Mrs. America pageant system. Her latest title and the pageant world offer a route she’s eager to follow as an example for future women.

Two very close friends of mine who are also shipmates were engaged in 2020 and thought it would be a terrific way for me to expand my social network, according to Gathright. I reasoned that I had nothing to lose and that it would help me grow and push me beyond my comfort zone.

Through the Mrs. American system for married women, the Miss America Strong pageant was created in 2018. They made the decision to launch this new, more open contest in order to provide women with more possibilities to compete in pageants.

Gathright remarked, “I entered my first pageant in 2021. I didn’t win, but I learned a lot and decided to attempt again. “I just jumped right in, and it all worked out.”

The Miss Oregon for America Strong pageant is distinctive in that there is no age restriction and women who are single, divorced, or widowed are welcome to participate. All participants must be at least 18 years old.

Moreover, getting involved, according to Gathright, has changed his life.

The fact that I am the first still-enlisted service veteran to represent Oregon is beautiful inside this pageant system, she remarked. There are many stereotypes within the pageant industry, and I don’t fit any of them. There is a place for you in pageantry, and I’m a perfect example of that.

It shows what women in the military can do within our community. I’m advocating for women within the military, as well as those women who don’t fit in a particular box or mold.

There is so much more to the sisterhood than what you see on television, Gathright said, so I want other women to have similar experiences and understand what it is all about.

Gathright has the opportunity to promote a number of causes she is passionate about during her term as Miss Oregon for America Strong.

She described The Fallen Outdoors project as a nonprofit group that encourages veterans serving on active duty to connect with one another and “go out into the great outdoors” through activities like hunting, fishing, and camping. With my leadership, I will be able to provide this assistance to the military community and other communities. Mental health has received a lot of attention recently. We want to give veterans access to the outdoors since it has such a positive effect on mental health.

Despite placing outside the top 15, Gathright said the experience was well worth the effort as she competed in the national Miss America Strong pageant from August 11–19 at the Westgate in Las Vegas.

It was my first vacation to Vegas, and I liked the entire experience, so it was a marathon,” she remarked. It was okay that I didn’t take home the national crown. I entered the stage, gave it my best, and let my tattoos be seen. It was a great accomplishment for me to be able to display my tattoos on a national pageant platform. That, in my opinion, will mark a turning moment for the pageant industry. Even if you have tattoos, you can follow this.

Gathright, who is originally from Portland, has been a resident of Molalla for five years and claims that her time there, in Oregon, and on the international stage have all taught her a lot.

The Molalla Woman's Pageant Journey Provides Inspiration For Others
The Molalla Woman’s Pageant Journey Provides Inspiration For Others In Oregon

I honestly love giving back to people and serving my community, whether that’s through the Navy, at my regular work, or with this crown, she said, adding, “I’ve learned so much about myself through this journey. You can accomplish that without hiding who you are. You may be who you truly are and succeed in anything you undertake.

Her great-grandfather served in the military during World War II, and Gathright’s desire to join the military as a child was sparked by hearing about his experiences. Gathright currently has the rank of E5 (second-class petty officer) in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

She stated, “Hearing his stories was motivating, and I want to carry on that Navy legacy. He was on the USS Pennsylvania, which was being worked on in the harbor at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese struck.

She will continue to pursue growth and serve as an advocate for other women like her while serving as Miss Oregon for America Strong for the time being and bringing that with her to the numerous events and activities she will participate in in the upcoming year.

Because I was always the tomboy growing up, she added, “I love that I now have buddies. I hike, fish, and hunt, and it’s fascinating to bring that into the pageant world – an adventurous lady can do this. These women have accepted me for who I truly am. It was really stunning. I’ll go out into the community and inspire other ladies by demonstrating how they may represent themselves in a pageant.

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