Until about a year ago, Tatiana Sidorova never dreamed of competing in beauty pageants. On the surface, the shows seemed frivolous and superficial.
“I never even considered it before,” said Sidorova, who lives in Windermere. “I didn’t believe in the concept.”
But after her husband, Hernesto Torrealba, met a beauty pageant director, he suggested to his wife that she should compete.
Fast-forward one year, and Sidorova - a true novice to the world of pageants - was named Mrs. Florida America, an achievement that earned her a ticket to the Mrs. America pageant Aug. 19 to 26 in Las Vagas.
“It’s a huge honor to represent Florida,” Sidorova said. “For me, this is beyond dreams.”
“It’s not about the beauty”
When Sidorova began considering the idea of competing in a beauty pageant last year, she was nervous, and understandably so. Her post-baby body was far from being in shape, and she had no idea whether she would even enjoy the experience. But after some encouragement from her husband, she decided to give it a try.
“I said that I would take the chance,” Sidorova said. “I’m one of those people who will take risks.”
With only a few months before her first pageant, Sidorova knew her biggest challenge would be getting in shape.
“I had to go to the gym and work out like I’ve never worked out in my life,” she said. “The thought of having people looking at me in a swimsuit onstage is what got me up at 6 o’clock in the morning.”
Her first pageant was competing for the World’s Most Beautiful Woman.
“It gave me a huge boost of confidence,” Sidorova said.
From there, she entered the 2016 Mrs. Florida America pageant and won fourth place. By then, Sidorova was hooked.
“It’s not about the beauty,” she said. “It’s about what you want to tell the world and what your story is. You learn that you cannot judge people because you don’t know their story. …It’s a life-changing experience.”
And her husband, who started her on her pageant journey, has been behind her every step of the way, she said.
“He is my biggest cheerleader and supporter,” Sidorova said. “He is like my manager. He is involved 100%.”
“I saw opportunity here”
After competing in the Mrs. Florida America pageant in 2016, Sidorova knew what to expect going into this year’s competition.
The competition consisted of an interview round, a black dress round, the swimsuit round and the ball grown round. But it was the interview round that was the most nerve-wracking, because accounted for 50% of a contestant’s score. Also, the round was timed, giving contestants only three minutes to answer the judges questions.
“I discovered myself in so many ways from the questions they asked,” Sidorova said.
The day of competition began around 6 a.m. as the contestants each did their hair and makeup which was followed by a three-hour rehearsal. After lunch, the contestants participated in the interview round before moving on to the rest of the pageant.
When strutting the stage in her various outfits, Sidorova knew it was all about her confidence.
“The judges are looking at how confident you walk in (your swimsuit),” she said. “The gown is the same thing.”
But the competition wasn’t just about the pageant. Each contestant needed to advocate for a cause of their choice. Sidorova’s choice was Love is Kind, an organization that provides aid to children in Moldova. For her, the choice was personal.
Sidorova was born and raised in Moldova and came to the United States through an exchange program. She decided to stay after the program ended.
“On the last day, I said that I wasn’t leaving,” Sidorova said. “I wanted this to be my home because I saw opportunity here.”
But she hasn’t forgotten about the Moldovan people.
“They have no food stamps, no Medicaid,” Sidorova said about Moldova. “I feel I owe something to that country and to the children there.”
Now, as Mrs. Florida America, Sidorova has also partnered with UNICEF to raise awareness and help children in Moldova.
“To be representing both organizations is just really, really great for me,” she said.
As Mrs. Florida America, Sidorova’s days are spent preparing for the toughest competition yet - Mrs. America. The competition will be held in August at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. The winner will go on to compete in the Mrs. World pageant in China.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience just to be there,” Sidorova said about the Mrs. America competition. “It’s like sports. You train for it, you set goals, you compete. You want to represent your state, your country and your charity.”
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].