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Facing the odds: Miss Mississippi talks life before the crown

JACKSON, Miss.- Just days after the Miss America Pageant, Miss Mississippi Laura Lee Lewis continues her reign in the Magnolia state bringing encouragement to people with through her inspirational story.

It’s hard to imagine that a beauty queen once struggled with a physical deformity, much less one on her face. Lewis, who placed as the fourth runner up in what is said to be one of the most competitive Miss America pageants in history, uses her story of growing up with midface hypoplasia to bring hope to people who know the realities of bullying.

Midface hypoplasia is a dento-facial deformity in the face that can effect the upper jaw, cheekbones, and eye sockets. Lewis said people began to notice she looked different in the third grade and by the time she reached high school, her ailment was very obvious.

“Kids can be really mean, they really noticed that my face was different than others. They hollered out names at me that I wouldn’t wish on anyone else,” Lewis said. “I had to be taken out of some classes because the emotional abuse was so bad that the principal and administration had to get me out of the classroom.”

Lewis was able to receive corrective surgery after her 18th birthday to correct her facial structure. She was required to wait until her growth plates finished growing.

Now she tries to use her story to give others hope that they too can overcome whatever obstacles are in the way.

“Parents and kids are really reaching out to me on social media saying ‘I did not know this about you, thank you so much for sharing your story because my daughter or son, or I personally have experienced something close to this,’” Lewis said.

Even now, sharing her story of success, she still receives hateful comments from people.  She says sometimes you just have to look past them.

Lewis credits her ability to see beyond her ailment and feel value in herself to a very special mentor in her life, Mrs. Fern.

“The world needs more Mrs. Ferns,” Lewis said. “She was a light to me and when I felt like I was nothing, she told me that I could do anything I put my mind to.”

This very special woman helped her realize how capable she was, and that all of her words of encouragement were just part of her natural humble personality.

“My mission this year as Miss Mississippi was to be a light for others,” she said.

Lewis will continue her reign until next years Miss Mississippi pageant where she will pass the crown to another young woman.

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