by Tina Wang, AsAmNews Contributor
Betty Hsu first learned about beauty pageants when she was in college, and her only thought was to win the scholarship money for school.
She lost twice but felt something change inside of her. As a tomboy nerdy kid, Hsu barely wore any dresses, not to mention wearing makeup. However, attending beauty pageants helped her find her inner strength and beauty for the first time.
Hsu was born in Richmond, Virginia, but subsequently moved to a predominantly White suburb outside of Chicago where she was usually the only Asian child in schools. Growing up, Hsu’s family spoke Mandarin at home and attended Chinese school on weekends. Still, like many children, Hsu often responded in English to fit in the society.
It wasn’t until college, at the University of California, Berkeley that she became acutely aware of the struggles and discrimination faced by Asian Americans throughout history, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese internment camps.
Hsu’s journey took a unique turn as she ventured into beauty pageants and was determined to win the competition. To prove that being an Asian American woman can be inspiring and outstanding, she went through a tough preparation phase. She found a fitness coach, an interview coach, and a talent choreographer to learn soft skills to win the contest.
Her persistence paid off, and she won the prestigious Miss Chinatown, USA in 2007 and earned $10,000, which she wisely used to fund her college education and start a confidence coaching business.
After winning several competitions, she learned that confidence often takes center stage alongside poise and elegance in the world of beauty pageants. So Hsu started coaching her peers, mostly women of color, to help them find their inner beauty in the competitions.
“When I was young, I was almost ashamed of being Chinese, Taiwanese. And now I am celebrating the uniqueness and beauty of our culture with my clients. I really hope that I’m an inspiration to Asian American women and I can empower the AAPI community to grow stronger,” Hsu said.
With a diverse background and a deep understanding of the challenges many face, Hsu inspired not only women of color, but clients in the business world. Her coaching focuses on both external aspects like fashion and beauty as well as internal aspects like interview skills and confidence building. When she was coaching project managers in big corporations, she helped them develop essential soft skills such as interview techniques, public speaking, and negotiation. She believes that these skills, often honed in beauty pageants, are transferable to the business world.
“Betty is not only an amazing pageant coach, but also an incredible life coach,” Kylie Chang, Hsu’s client who recently won the Miss Asian Global, said. “Through her pageant training, I’ve gained skills that apply to both onstage and in real life such as executive presence, interview, confident posture, posing, networking, and even sales techniques.”
Betty emphasizes the importance of understanding oneself and embracing one’s unique qualities to build confidence.
“I think confidence really comes from knowing yourself, who you are, what your value is and where you’re going to go. It’s an easy question, but it’s actually multifaceted and very difficult to answer,” Hsu said.
She often asks her clients to dig deep and be honest with themselves.
Hsu’s goal as a confidence coach is clear: to help individuals reach their next level of personal and professional growth. To build confidence inside out, Hsu encourages her clients to build a self-care routine to prevent burnout in life. As a member of the committee of the Asian American Bar Association Wellness Warriors, she advocates for self-care and advises individuals to set aside time for themselves.
“As a working mom, I encourage everyone to get an hour massage or facial every month. I’m also working on to meditate every day, which I know it’s tough,” Hsu said. “The power of taking time to yourself will allow me to become a better mom when I come back. I will create an outlook reminder for every self-care routine.”
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