Meet Our 2012 Beauty Search Winners

You could hate them because they’re beautiful—but you won’t once you read their stories. Whether transcending a failed marriage, coping with a tragic death or ditching a dud career, these women show us how to shake off the ugly stuff of life and go for the gold. (Our thanks to the nearly 1,500 other inspiring entrants;  you made it hard to choose!) 

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Grand Prize Winner: Alison Chace

Alison Chace

Age: 44

Occupation: Actress-producer

Hometown: New York City


This was Chace’s second time entering the More Beauty Search. “I obviously didn’t win last year, but I was undeterred,” she says. “As a working actress, I’m used to rejection. Plus, my mantra now is, ‘Why not me?’ ” We were glad to see her back. Last year she told us she’d split from her husband of 15 years; this year it was clear her spirit is keeping her strong. What makes her feel beautiful, she says, isn’t a man’s reactions to her looks but rather “a belly laugh. Wit. Friendship. Being a mom [to two boys]. Doing something that matters.” Amen to all that—and to Chace’s single-again reinvention plan. Hours after being photographed for this story, she headed off on a self-renewal trip to Madrid, Rome and Tuscany. And she just completed a program, Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts (, that promises to teach women how to “use the power of pleasure to have their way with the world.” She’s putting extra effort into her outer package, too, which gives her the confidence to face blind dates and casting agents. Her top tips: Botox “once a year, on the frown line”; Latisse to lengthen her lashes; Listerine Whitening Rinse ($10; drugstores); Zumba classes; and trendy (often blue, occasionally yellow) nail polish. “I always ask the manicurist what the cool high school girls are wearing,” she says.

Melanie Acevedo

First Place Winner: Janice Cosby Bridges

Janice Cosby Bridges

Age: 56

Occupation: Corporate VP of marketing at health care system

Hometown: Farmington Hills, Mich.


Bridges is one of those optimistic people who are sunny but not annoyingly Pollyannaish. Her positive attitude is of the calm, I’m-blessed-to-be-here variety. Why is she always so happy? “My mom died of cancer when I was 11 and she was 36. As a result, I’ve vowed to enjoy every day I have,” she says. While the memory made Bridges’s own 36th birthday hard, she’s been grateful to be alive ever since. When she turned 50, she threw a brunch bash for “40 women who’ve touched my life. It was my chance to say thank you.” Bridges thinks it’s no coincidence that she has encountered so many women worth acknowledging. “I believe my mother put these women, notably my stepmother, in my life,” she says. Another, Pat Maryland, has been Bridges’s boss and mentor at four jobs. A third, Jacqui Martin, is her hairstylist—and the reason she entered the More Beauty Search. “I get my hair cut every week—yes, every week—and Jacqui kept saying she thought I’d get into More.” As for that enviable hair, Bridges does little, beyond all those cuts, to maintain it. She also skips Botox and fillers but admits to a serious makeup habit, reciting her favorite products from MAC, Chanel and YSL. Her desert-island must-have? Clé de Peau Beauté concealer ($70;

Melanie Acevedo

First Place Winner: Cara Leonetti Esposito

Cara Leonetti Esposito

Age: 41
Occupation: Executive director of a private foundation

Hometown: Los Angeles


Until recently, Esposito didn’t give her looks much thought. “I’m a nerd,” she says, describing herself as someone who grew up focused on schoolwork. Later, as a county prosecutor, she wore nondescript suits. That changed when her job did. “As an attorney, I prosecuted juveniles. Depressing,” she says. “So when I got the chance to run a foundation with the power to help people on a significant scale, I jumped at it.” Since her new role requires public speaking and meeting with donors, she had to ditch the bland suit and enlist experts to redo her look. Her new uniform: Michael Kors sheaths, barely-there makeup (tinted moisturizer, mascara), chic glasses and a slicked-back chignon (“I still don’t know how to do my hair,” she says). The makeover must be helping, because the foundation is growing. Esposito’s current goal—and the reason she entered the More Beauty Search—is to raise money to build a community center in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts, the scene of race riots in the ’60s; at her request, the $5,000 check she won was made out directly to the cause. Her ultimate dream? To change the way Los Angeles treats its underprivileged families, in particular the neglected kids she once faced off against in court.


Next: Behind the Scenes at the Winners' Photoshoot


Related: Watch a behind-the-scenes video from the photoshoot here


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Melanie Acevedo

Share Your Thoughts!



Are you really telling me I have to 'like' your page on Facebook in order to enter the 2013 More Beauty Contest online? Way to turn off your readers, More. I am certainly NOT interested in getting spammed by you on FB so no, I will NOT be liking your page. I imagine many other readers out there feel the same way.
This is a truly bone-headed move on your part, More.

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