Filipina-American beauty Renee Reyes’ awe-inspiring story wins hearts at Miss Connecticut USA 2021

08 Jun 2021 | Priya Bhardwaj

In the recent years, it can be seen how pageantry has evolved in terms of normalizing beauty standards for every woman to feel included. On Sunday, Miss Connecticut USA 2021 was held where Amanda Torchia was crowned the new queen. At the finale night, there was another woman who stole everyone’s hearts rocking the stage with her natural bald look.

The Filipino-American beauty Renee Reyes broke barriers as she walked the stage with a shaved head due to a condition called ‘Alopecia’. Even though Renee could not win the crown, she was honored to receive the Miss Connecticut USA 2021 award recognizing her efforts in community service.



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Renee wore an evening gown by Filipino designer Benj Leguiab IV at the preliminary competition and everyone fell in love with her dedication and enchanting beauty. The same gown was worn by Skelly Ivy Florida at Miss Universe Philippines 2020. While this was Renee’s first time at Miss Connecticut USA, she promised everyone that it won’t be her last stint.

On her awe-inspiring journey, Renee said, “Words can’t describe how transformational this weekend was for me. This was the first time in my life I was in an environment where I could be myself completely, where my differences were not only accepted, but embraced. When I walked on the Miss Connecticut USA stage for the first time I was overwhelmed with feelings of joy and relief. Like I’ve finally found closure to a difficult chapter of my life and I can move forward with so much hope and happiness. I woke up this morning with feeling like a huge weight I didn’t even know I was carrying was lifted, and I am free.”



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She added, “Ladies, beauty doesn’t define you. But there’s power in defining your own beauty. Women can do anything, and be anything. Us alopecians can do anything and be anything! The choice is yours, there is no one like you, and in that lies your beauty. BE BOLDLY YOU and embrace what makes you different. I can’t wait to grow, learn, and level up with my newfound sense of freedom and confidence, and come back to Miss Connecticut USA next year. Thank you to everyone who helped make this weekend happen for me, it really was the BEST time.”

Renee’s journey through life has definitely not been easy as she went through tragic times to reach the place where she is today. Around six years ago, Renee was sexually assaulted. She spent rest of her high school life coping with the trauma. As soon as she thought things were turning better for her, Renee was kidnapped in the first year of college and brutally beaten and drugged. “I was drugged, r*ped & beaten daily while being dragged around foreign countries. I self-harmed to stay awake and present through the haze of drugs and was nearly killed when he tried to drop me from a balcony for “ruining my body.” I was dismissed from Fordham with a 0.2 GPA for absence & returned to the US homeless.I began to lose my hair due to circumstances triggering my autoimmune disease”, she wrote.



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As her journey to recovery began, Renee shaved her head due to alopecia and studied horticulture and landed her first job as a horticulturist. Now she works in her desired field, lives in her dream apartment, she is back in school with a 4.0. She also founded her own nonprofit, The AloPeace Project. She now represents survivors of sexual and domestic violence, those struggling with homelessness, AAPI women who are severely underrepresented in American pageantry, young entrepreneurs and the 273 mil people living with alopecia worldwide.

She is indeed a true beauty queen who has shown exemplary courage and determination to reach the path she is on today. We would love to see her compete at the pageant again and represent her country at an international platform soon.