Chrystal Hines, president and CEO of Inner Beauty, talks about the program and why it’s important to Central Indiana.
In some ways, the Inner Beauty pageant is like others: The young ladies involved perform a talent, they model formal dresses and winners are crowned. At this year’s virtual show, some girls danced, others sang, others performed poetry and one showed off her drawings.
But what makes the Inner Beauty Pageant unique is that many of these girls come from underserved populations, and instead of being judged largely on their appearance and talent, the judges look primarily at their character based off a private interview.
For the past 18 years, girls between the ages of eight and 18 have participated in the Inner Beauty Program, led by former Indianapolis teacher Chrystal Hines. But the program has grown into so much more than a pageant.
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Now the organization offers a year-round mentorship program and tutoring opportunities, plus Inner Beauty leaders take the children on college visits and other trips, such as skiing or camping trips. They try to meet the basic needs of the children and their families as well.
Hines calls it a “full service salon.”
“They always have something to look forward to,” Hines said. “They know there’s going to be a trip or an event or something that’s coming up, that you know, ‘Hey I gotta keep myself together, or I got to stay out of trouble because I really want to be a part of it'”.
Anyone can be a part of Inner’s Beauty’s programs, but the organization also gets referrals from the Department of Child Services and those on juvenile probation.
There’s also a brother program NEW B.O.Y. (New Breed of Youth) started a few years after Inner Beauty by Hines’ husband Kareem targeting boys in the community, giving them similar opportunities.
Part of the reason Hines feels invested in the program is because she sees herself in many of the young girls. She grew up in the inner city and was born to teenage parents. Her mom worked hard but Hines said she never had a lot.
“We used to be that child that we served,” Hines said. “This is our calling. This is what we were born to do.”
Tiffany Robinson, who now serves as director of life coaching, has seen first hand how the two organizations have helped her five children. She started off as a parent in the program when her oldest daughter, Victoria, got involved in the pageant. Now, both her daughters are in their 20s and she considers Hines family.
The program helped both Robinson’s daughters learn about themselves, she said. It encouraged her oldest daughter to become more outgoing, and when her younger daughter, Elexys, got involved shortly after, Hines said it helped make her more accountable for her actions.
Robinson said that when Elexys was about 14 years old, Hines showed her “tough love” and temporarily kicked her out of Inner Beauty for acting up during a group meeting. Hines only would let Elexys back in after she had given a formal apology to the board of directors.
“That was the spark that she needed to be accountable for herself,” Robinson said. “Even when she messes up now, she will come back and apologize in a public forum. I attribute that 100% to Inner Beauty.”
What is your organization’s mission?
Inner Beauty provides character-building services for young ladies between eight and 18 years old.
“We want to focus on their self esteem, their character, their poise and personality,” Hines said. “We want to offer them exposure and opportunities and really meet them where they are, and give them room for growth.”
How many people do you serve?
Inner Beauty Program and its brother program NEW B.O.Y. (New Breed of Youth) serve approximately 300-350 kids each year. About 25-30 girls participate in the annual pageant and roughly 200-250 kids are assigned a mentor.
What is your No. 1 need?
Hines said the organization’s No. 1 need is sponsorship for the different events and trips Inner Beauty and New Boy have throughout the year. During the trips, Inner Beauty tries to make sure the children have the clothes they need and aren’t fed fast food for every meal.
“Some kids, we’ve taken them places like Red Lobster and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, this is the best meal I’ve ever had. I’ve never been somewhere so fancy,'” Hines said. “So to be able to actually take them to nice restaurants when we travel, that’s important to us.”
How can people get involved?
Reach out to Hines to get involved with Inner Beauty as a mentor or volunteer at the number below or send a message online.
Season for Sharing and the African American Legacy Fund
The shared mission of IndyStar’s Our Children initiative and annual Season for Sharing campaign is to harness the power of journalism to make a difference in the lives of Central Indiana youth. We invite you to join us by making a financial contribution. The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust will match donations dollar-for-dollar up to $25,000. All charitable donations are tax deductible.
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Go to cicf.org/season-for-sharing-2020 to give online. If you prefer to send a check, please mail to: Central Indiana Community Foundation, Attn: Our Children, 615 N. Alabama St., Suite 300, Indianapolis, IN 46204. You also can donate by texting “SHARING” to 80888.
About Inner Beauty Program
Address: 5610 Crawfordsville Road, Indianapolis, IN, 46224
Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.
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