You voted, and the results are in.
With 1,137 votes, Wendy Manasse, 53, of Long Beach, California, is this year’s Readers’ Choice Winner for the MORE 2013 Beauty Search Contest! When asked what makes her more beautiful than ever before, she said, “When I was young, my grandma used to tell me that I was so beautiful, I could be Miss America. Who was she kidding? I had a long, skinny nose, an even longer, skinnier face and ‘sturdy’ legs. Nobody in any of the magazines had those features.
“After college, I began my fashion career in the world of women’s swimwear. I got to decide which model was beautiful enough to wear the bikinis I designed. I can still picture the ‘go sees’ with exquisite models: It was like shopping for the most perfect eyes, lips, legs, bust. I had to be critical of every single body part, so the person picking up that coveted magazine or catalog could see nothing less than perfection.
“On September 11, 2001, I was in New York City for my first designer tent show. I watched the towers fall to the ground from our offices and wasn’t able to get home to my family for a week. That experience rearranged my life priorities.
“Fast forward to today. Beauty is no longer about the clothes, hair, makeup and lighting—all of those are just an illusion. Beauty is about seeing, feeling and recognizing goodness.
“I now have my own company [learn more about Quenchwear here] dedicated to helping every woman look and feel beautiful. I am making a difference in the lives of women who struggle with body issues because they don’t look like the women in the magazines. After we meet, these women tell me they’ve accomplished things they never thought possible because they finally felt good about themselves.
“And personally, I have never felt more beautiful and complete. I have a strong, supportive marriage of 24 years, two wonderful children in college, meaningful work—and, yes, a personal trainer! So grandma was right: I AM beautiful!”
Congratulations, Wendy! Click here to send Wendy your very own well wishes.