The beauty behind the beauty pageants

Tiffany Delmonico offers life lessons to the women she coaches

As our world has evolved, so too has the beauty pageant industry.

A few decades ago, the Miss America and Miss USA contests were among the events of the year, the world's most familiar form of reality television.

In today's day and age, every form of technology is an outlet for the lives of others.

So can beauty pageants still hold a relevant place in today's society?

Asked that question, New Milford's Tiffany Delmonico, owner and founder of Professional Pageant Development, pointed out "the entire year of reign for a beauty pageant winner is wholeheartedly devoted to charity, raising money for the thousands of causes out there."

As society progresses, she noted, more world issues are brought to light every day. Helping build awareness of these issues is the main goal of a beauty pageant winner.

Delmonico, who graduated from New Milford High School as Tiffany Selivonchik, is a seasoned professional in the world of beauty pageants.

Since taking the crown in 1992 at the Miss Connecticut Teen USA competition, she has dabbled in all trades of the beauty pageant industry, taking on the roles of emcee, judge, choreographer, producer and director, and she continues to be a contestant to this day.

In addition to taking clients under her wing, Delmonico is the wife of Matthew Delmonico and busy mother to four young boys, aged 9, 6, 4, 3.

Her knack for coaching is rooted in the seven years she spent directing with her mother. Having guided three national winners during that time span, Delmonico caught on to her successes and began her career of coaching girls for the big events.

"My consulting took on its own little journey," said Delmonico. "I started slowly, simply helping girls out and seeing how they succeeded."

In 2009, a winning streak took flight for Delmonico's consulting business.

As of today, she has coached five consecutive Connecticut Teen USA winners. and her coaching career reached a high point this year.

Her latest success story goes by the name of Erin Brady, Miss USA 2013.

From East Hampton, Conn., Brady became the first woman from Connecticut to ever be crowned Miss USA.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, she earned a Top 10 finish in the Miss Universe contest in Moscow, Russia.

Brady credits Delmonico for supporting her journey.

"She (Delmonico) is as real as they come, which was very helpful to me as someone who was new to the industry," Brady said. "She was such an asset to my Miss USA prep, providing me with the ins and outs of this new pageant world I was being introduced to."

Delmonico said she could not be more proud.

"Erin is a girl everyone can relate to... she's only done three pageants her entire life, she held a job as an accountant, so she's a real world girl," she boasted of the reigning Miss USA.

Delmonico's past experience as a beauty pageant contestant primed her perfectly for the role she plays now in the lives of pageant participants, she said.

"My first year, I did not place; I didn't even make semi-finals," recalled Delmonic.

"I tell all of my clients this today because so many girls want to give up on their first try," she added, "and I laugh at that because I'm always like what do you ever really win the first time you do it?"

Perseverance is important in any activity, she remarked, and persevere is just what Delmonico did.

After her first loss, she began to dissect every aspect of the pageant industry. The following year, she went back and took home the title of Miss Connecticut Teen USA.

"Back then, I wished I had someone there to guide me, to lean on," says Delmonico. "I wished there was someone in my life with experience to play the part I do today."

In addition to her clients' personal styling, hair, wardrobe and makeup, a large portion of Delmonico's consulting business are their interview skills.

Lynn Priest of New Milford is not your typical beauty pageant contestant. Delmonico has taught the 49-year-old "anyone can achieve their goals, no matter their age."

"I am more confident and prepared for a pageant interview," said Priest. "I can also use those communication skills in my personal life and on a business interview."

Clearly, Delmonico teaches her clients life lessons and not simply beauty tips.

"Resume writing, interview skills, perseverance and having confidence. These are life skills," said Delmonico.

Jessica Bouwman, 23, of New Milford competed this week for the title of Miss Connecticut USA 2014.

The New Milford High School graduate earned third runnerup from a field of dozens of hopefuls. This is her first year working with Delmonico.

"I have been competing on and off for about two years now, and my only regret is not working with Tiffany sooner," says Bouwman. "She is a wonderful person, and I know our relationship will continue beyond pageant prep."

For Delmonico, her "favorite part of this industry is seeing the transformation of these girls."

"Not just physically, but being able to look at the difference in their lives from years later is so rewarding," she reflected.

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Photography courtesy of Tiffany Delmonico