Update May 3, 2019: Congratulations to Cheslie Kryst, who has won the Miss USA Pageant and will now move on to compete for the title of Miss Universe!
A civil litigation lawyer in Charlotte, North Carolina, Miss North Carolina has been attracting media attention, as well as invitations to speak and to serve as host at charitable events, for reasons that seem at first to be unrelated to her legal practice. Not only is Cheslie Kryst, JD, MBA an associate at the prominent North Carolina law firm Poyner Spruill LLP, she is also a Miss USA beauty pageant contestant and a highly regarded fashion blogger. On May 2 she will represent North Carolina at the Miss USA pageant in Reno, Nevada.
Kryst was recently featured in a “day in the life” article in the Charlotte Observer, as she ramped up preparations for the national pageant, fulfilled a commitment to one of the city’s charitable organizations, and carried out her legal responsibilities — popping a tiara on her head at the end of her workday en route to the benefit event. The article reveals an individual with a balanced view of life, strength both personally and as a lawyer, and a spirit of generosity and philanthropy.
She knows that much of the world sees pageant girls as only pretty faces, and, on a larger scale, unfairly judges women based on appearances — especially in the workplace. She’s hustling hard to change all that. – Charlotte Observer
Women who are working to advance their careers in the law and other male-dominated, corporate endeavours tend to avoid becoming associated with the worlds of fashion and beauty. They are aware of the widespread tendency of humans to prejudge attractive women (not only pageant contestants), and to assume that they lack intelligence and vision. As The Observer article reports, Kryst has plenty of anecdotes about times when she has been taken less than seriously in legal settings due to her eye-catching appearance. But as lawyers like Amal Clooney, Marie Heinen and Kryst are demonstrating, it is dangerous to make assumptions about women on the basis of how they look.
A graduate of South Carolina University Honors College (BS cum laude) and Wake Forest University (JD and MBA), Kryst got into the pageant business in her teens when she realized that achievements in that arena could give her a power that she could use in other contexts. Over the years, her avocation as a pageant contestant has also contributed to her public speaking abilities, offered networking opportunities, and resulted in invitations to serve community initiatives like Autism Charlotte. Kryst launched her blog, White Collar Glam, after a female judge in a moot court competition advised her that if she wanted to win the next time, she should wear a skirt. She uses her platform to advise women on dressing for the workplace, and she has thousands of followers from around the world.
It takes courage to pursue the crown in a beauty pageant when you are working in a profession in which many women are still struggling for equal treatment and opportunity, but by excelling at both initiatives without apology (for either!), Kryst is teaching everyone she encounters a thing or two about the synergy that can by attained by following one’s passions.
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