Just three years ago, Quinniya Hearn found herself in a situation she had never imagined for herself before: She was practically broke, unemployed, divorced, and homeless. She also had Phallyn, her five-month-old daughter, to take care of. Hearn went from one relative’s home to another until she found a shelter where she and her daughter could stay. She finished her Master’s degree in social work at Loyola University and found a job as a case manager for other homeless people. “All along, I was still helping, cooking, cleaning, and always looking for work,” Hearn recalls of her time at the shelter.
In July 2014, Hearn was finally able to move into a new home with her daughter. As she was gradually regaining her footing, she learned about the first Miss Voluptuous Diva USA Pageant. In a classic case of a dream coming true, Hearn went on to win the beauty pageant, where she was judged in several categories, including talent, gown presentation, and question-and-answer.
“I used to be independent—on my own, working, going to school,” Hearn says as she emphasizes the importance of self-esteem, self-confidence, and humility for women. “I thought I had it together. And then life happened. I was at the bottom, looking up.”
Today, Hearn identifies herself as an “encourager" by nature. “I share my story every chance I get, especially with young adults,” Hearn says. “I’m not shameful about it. I consider myself an overcomer.” Here are three tips in beauty and life Hearn shares with the readers of FW: Chicago.
- Love yourself: “If you don’t know how to treat yourself, no one else will. A woman has to make up her own mind and identity, she has to own that. She has to know who she is.”
- Believe in yourself: “Surround yourself with people who are like-minded, who can help you. People who give you a different idea of how to reach your goal. When you see results, it boosts your self-confidence. You become unstoppable.”
- Always remain humble: “We all have accomplished some amazing things in our lives. You still have to give credit to people who help you because you didn’t survive on your own.”