Miss Mississippi Vivian O’Neal reaching new heights

Published 5:08 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Vying for the title of Miss Mississippi takes a lot of stamina. Contestants have to promote their respective service initiative, make an endless number of public appearances and prepare for all stages of the competition, which includes the evening gown phase.

During this part of the competition, contestants receive points based on their gown selection and how gracefully they walk across the stage. But perhaps after noticing the shoes these women wear, judges should consider throwing a few points towards their talent score, too. Walking in heels that look like stilts is definitely a death-defying performance.

Vivian O’Neal, who is the reigning Miss Mississippi, said she was not exactly sure how tall the shoes she and her fellow contestants wear, but if she had to guess, she said it would probably be five to six inches.

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“It’s not just the heel,” O’Neal said, “it’s the platform too.”

So why do contestants choose to wear these platform style stilettos?

O’Neal said it was because they can give the illusion of longer, sleeker legs, which is desirable for many contestants competing in a pageant. But illusion or not, O’Neal said wearing high heel shoes does more than just add height. They also build confidence.

“I have heard that from some other girls, where it’s not even really the height,” she said. “I mean the fact of the matter is I’m five feet one-inch tall and I’m not going to look very tall, regardless; no matter how high my heels are. But it does something for my posture and I feel like I walk a certain way. I walk more confidently with those (high heel shoes).”

And that added bit of confidence paid off last year, when the 26-year-old O’Neal was crowned Miss Mississippi.

It was the fifth time she had taken part in the Miss Mississippi Competition and the reason she gave for her persistence was scholarship dollars.

Since she began competing, O’Neal has been awarded more than $30,000 in scholarships from the state competition, which has aided in obtaining her bachelor’s degree in 2020 and her master’s degree in 2023.

At the end of her reign as Miss Mississippi, O’Neal said she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in either education or non-profit management.

During the Miss America Competition, O’Neal, who was one of 51 contestants, also brought home another $3,000 after being named as one of the three preliminary fitness competition winners. This scholarship, she said, will also go toward her education.

Miss Mississippi contestants are required to select a service initiative. O’Neal’s is called CapABLE, and its mission is to empower students to embrace their differences and bridge the gap between students with disabilities and students without disabilities through education.

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit has already reached more than 50,000 students nationwide, O’Neal said.

“This is one of my most proud numbers.”

In addition to her service initiative, O’Neal said she has also worked to recruit young women for the Miss Mississippi Competition.

“One of my big goals this year was to bring in my professional experience in recruitment and really increase the number of women involved so our statewide delegate interest was increased by 30 percent this year, which I am really proud of.”

This year there are 39 contestants vying for the title.


About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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