Niles woman to compete in Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant

Published 9:28 am Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It takes more than beauty to be selected for Miss Hooters Michigan 2017.

Similar to a pageant, the contestants on stage must act with grace and aplomb to earn the winning title.

Niles’ Jessica Blank, 22, demonstrated these qualities in a contest May 17, earning the title of Miss Hooters Michigan 2017 in Troy, Michigan.

“It is about presence on stage and being able to show your personality,” Blank said in an interview Saturday morning. “Once you are up there and get the crowd going, it makes you feel confident.”

Now, Blank has a shot at advancing her title in the Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant in Las Vegas. Blank will compete against 100 other contestants from around the world July 7 to July 13. Through the competition, Blank will participate in several photo shoots for next year’s calendar and practice for the contest, which takes place July 12.

“I have never been to Las Vegas,” Blank said. “I am really excited. Out of 31 girls, they chose me to represent Michigan.”

Blank is a 2013 graduate of Brandywine High School and a former member of the Miss Niles court. She is now a senior at Western Michigan University, where she is pursuing a degree in marketing through the Hayworth College of Business.

When she earns her degree next spring, Blank said she plans to work for a beauty marketing firm, where she hopes to help others find their beauty inside and out.

“I am really in to [helping] people feel good about themselves,” Blank said. “There is something very empowering about taking care of yourself and feeling good about yourself.”

Those who know the Hooters restaurant chain, perhaps know it most for the beer, hot wings and burgers presented by servers, famously known for their appearance.

Some may argue that such an industry objectifies women, choosing to acknowledge their beauty over intellectual ability.

But Blank said she does not see it that way.

“I have been granted so many opportunities to do things through this job that I never thought I would,” Blank said. “I do not think it is objectifying. I think it is about being confident in yourself. Feeling confident in myself makes me feel better about myself and empowered. It makes me want to do better in school and at my job and all aspects of my life.”

Among those to initially express skepticism about her job were her parents, Blank said. However, Blank told them that the job was helping her to earn college tuition and the confidence she described.

Hooters offers up to $1,000 in tuition reimbursement per semester, according to Blank. Employees earn tuition reimbursement based on the number of hours worked at the restaurant, grade point average and the number of credits they are enrolled in. For Blank this amounts to about $300 each semester.

Through her job as a server, Blank said she has gained confidence in herself and been encouraged to be have a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

“Working out and eating better in general makes me feel more confident and happier,” Blank said.

Since seeing this, her parents have helped to support her every step of the way.

Prior to her job as a Hooters server, Blank said exercise and eating healthy were difficult habits to get into. Now, Blank aims to exercise every day and eat healthy. While there are days when it is not always easy, the results are not just looking good, but feeling good, too, Blank said.

“There is nothing to it, but to do it,” Blank said. “There are days when I do not want to go to the gym, but it hit a point where I started to enjoy it. It gets me going for the day and helps me to get energized.”

A personal trainer that she meets with twice a month helps to keep her on track, she said.

Looking forward to the competition, Blank said she just hopes to have fun competing and representing her hometown on an international level.

And since seeing some of the benefits, her parents have been supportive of her win, too, Blank said.

“My parents always encouraged me to be who I wanted to be,” Blank said. “They have always been really supportive of me. They are really proud of me.”