NEWPORT BEACH — Some see beauty pageants as demeaning to women.
But not Heather Shields, 20. She finds the experience empowering.
"I figured if I could get on stage in front of lots of people in a bathing suit, I could do just about anything," she said at her home Friday.
Shields is preparing to represent Corona del Mar in the Miss California USA pageant in January and sees it as more than just a chance to get all dressed up, although she is excited about that too.
The competition gives her a chance to raise awareness about diabetes and, if she wins, a real platform to get the word out about the disease that has afflicted her since she was 11.
"If I won, I'd be in awe, and I'd really try to use that position to raise money awareness about Type 1 diabetes, and there are so many chronic conditions that so many people have and people just don't know about," she said. "You can look fine on the outside, but there can be something going on the inside that can really affect you on a day to day basis."