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Miss Utah International shares a message

Allison Phillips may look like a typical pageant girl. She’s beautiful, primped and amiable. And if her demeanor doesn’t give it away, her sparkling crown earrings and the crowns embroidered on the back pockets of her jeans might.

But Phillips doesn’t hold the title of Miss Utah International because of how she looks in an evening gown or how well she competes in a talent contest. It’s because she is working to educate kids about school bullying and harassment.

The Miss International pageant requires competitors to have a platform, upon which they do community service and make a difference. Earning the title of Miss Utah International based mainly on her platform, Phillips will continue on to compete against girls from around the country and the world, in the Miss International pageant in Chicago next month. Unfortunately, school bullying is a familiar subject for Phillips, who has lived in Park City since she was 7 years old.

"When I moved here to Park City I was bullied and harassed a lot, to the point where it led up to where a girl tried to choke me and I got a death threat," she said.

Phillips is working with the State Board of Education to organize opportunities to speak at schools across the state, starting in the fall, about her experiences and what kids should do if they’re being bullied. She says she’s "hoping to get through to the victims and the perpetrators."

After being bullied at Treasure Mountain International School, she understands how "it undermines people’s security and, you know, destroys their self worth. And it’s not the victim’s fault If they do experience it, they need to tell people. They need to get help and let it be known that it’s happening."

She speaks about it with so much ease, it’s hard to understand how upset Phillips was about the bullying at the time.

Talking about it "was definitely hard in the beginning." She referred to the experience as a breaking point, and writing down her platform with her mother as "the last time I’m going to be down about it."

In 7th grade, after she received a death threat, the police became involved and she didn’t return to school for a week, she recalled.

"I just kind of grabbed onto my family and just became very shy in school. I was always very shy. It was just hard. It pushed me to really know what I believe in and find out at a young age what I want and who I am," she said.

She said the other girls picked on her because of her close relationship with her mother, which she still maintains. Her mother would often dress her up in clothes Phillips calls "extremely girly."

Phillips is still interested in fashion. In preparation for next month’s competition, she has already chosen her dresses for the fashion wear and evening gown competitions. As a student at Park City High School, she tailored her own suit and won the Sterling Scholar award for Family and Consumer Sciences. She has considered going into fashion design, but is currently a dance major at Utah Valley State College.

Having danced since she was three years old, Phillips was cast as a dancer in the High School Musical movies and is filming the third movie in the series in Salt Lake right now. Unfortunately, there is no talent competition next month, but if there was Phillips said she would definitely dance.

Due to unusual circumstances, she was selected as Miss Utah International via telephone interviews rather than through the pageant process. But this isn’t discouraging to Phillips, because she said being selected by the head organizers of the national pageant is an honor. And she has experience from her first pageant circuit, finishing third runner up in the state at the Youth Pageant of America, and continuing on to compete at the national level in Florida in 2005.

Even if she doesn’t do well, Phillips said she is excited for the opportunity to participate in Miss International next month. She will get to see a new city, Chicago, with her entire family, parents and two brothers, Chris and Tyson. "My whole family is going to the pageant. I’ve got my fan club following me," she laughed.

But she thinks her platform of school bullying will make an impact on the judges.

"I think I have something different that nobody’s ever done before and I think I can help make a difference. And I have the personal drive to do it," Phillips said.


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