Taylor Ballard was crowned Miss Oregon 2018 after beating 23 other contestants during the 71st annual Miss Oregon Scholarship Pageant at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center on Saturday. Ballard will compete in the Miss America competition this September in Atlantic City.
Ballard, who competed as Miss Northwest Wonderland of Portland, was first inspired to start competing in 2014 upon the suggestion of a friend. She saw the pageant as a way to get scholarship money for her public relations degree at Portland State University, improve her communication skills and as another opportunity to hone her dance skills.
After her first competitions, Ballard took a year off to reflect and work through body insecurity issues. It was a year of struggling to find a balance in her own daily eating and exercise habits, which she said swung between “diets and binge eating” — but also a year that provided mental clarity.
Her platform, “confidence under construction,” was inspired by her time both in and out of pageantry. “I wanted to work on myself to turn those insecurities into strengths. I wanted to feel confident in my own skin to help others do the same.”
Ballard’s platform about confidence and positive body image was particularly relevant, as much of the evening’s tone was colored by recent decisions made by the Miss America Organization to rebrand the competition to center more clearly around scholarship by nixing the swimsuit portion and relaxing evening wear standards.