Humiliated by ‘Barbie’ bully, teen earns spot in state beauty pageant
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · October 12, 2012
The teacher, trying to make a point about the “Barbie” portrayal, directed Madison “Madi” Yeggy to stand up in front of the class.
The teacher had just pointed to a couple of other students, drawing attention to why they could not fit the Barbie image — wrong color hair, too short, etc.
But Madi seemed “perfect” — blonde hair, blue eyes, tall. Wait, no, the teacher said.
“You couldn’t be Barbie,” Madi remembers the teacher saying, “You need breast implants.”
The freshman was shocked and embarrassed. Her classmates laughed.
When she went home that night, her mother, Kim Cardona, said she did not seem herself.
“It totally affected her,” Cardona said. “She was devastated.”
Madi had trouble sleeping, and “she was crying all the time,” but would not tell her mother what was wrong. So she took her to see a doctor.
Cardona waited outside the doctor’s office while Madi met with him privately. When the doctor asked what was causing the depression and anxiety, she told him what happened in class that day, not long before summer break.
Cardona said Madi felt like she had no self-esteem; the doctor prescribed Prozac.
The family lives in Iowa City and open-enrolls to attend West Branch, so Cardona was going to “pull her out” if the teacher was still there when school resumed. She said the principal made an offer: That the teacher would be ordered to have no contact with her — not teach her classes or even oversee a study hall. Cardona compared it to a restraining order.
So Madi returned. Yet while her emotions were better under control, she felt she still needed an extra boost to help rebuild her self-esteem.
It came from a family friend, Nicki Boyd, one who also knew Miss Iowa USA Rebecca Hodge. Boyd encouraged the then 15-year-old to apply for the Miss Teen Iowa pageant.
She did, but so did more than 500 other girls. That was in the spring.
Last month, Madi, now 16, found out that she made the cut, and this weekend will compete against 40 to 50 other girls in the Miss Iowa Teen USA Pageant in Newton.
Cardona said the family received a packet with lots of pages of information and forms. Part of that were several interview questions about herself, asking about some of her favorite things, future plans and dreams.
Asked which question was the most meaningful to answer, Madi said the one about her favorite charity, Stomp Out Bullying.
“She donates money every year for that,” Cardona said.
Madi also joined LoveOurChildrenUSA.org.
“There’s been a lot of bullying happening lately,” Madi said, and not just the “really embarrassing” event from that teacher.
Cardona said the friend’s encouragement and earning a place in the pageant have made a big difference in Madi’s attitude.
“I really wish you could have seen her a year ago,” the mother said. “She has made huge strides.”
Meeting with a reporter more than a week before the pageant, Madi said that the truth of this weekend’s event in Newton still has not affected her yet.
“I’d rather just go out and be confident,” she said. “I do not want to have to worry about that.”
Madi said she got some tips from Hodge and West Branch resident Elaine Reinholz, herself a winner of the Mrs. Iowa United States All World Beauties.
Madi said she must wear three different outfits: One for the personality interview, one floor-length evening gown and a one-piece, one-color swimsuit/fitness wear.
Madi has been involved in yearbook and once played volleyball, but had to drop out because of scoliosis and, tied to it, a disc disorder called Scheuermann’s Disease.
The family found businesses and families to act as sponsors to help raise the $1,000 registration fee. The two-day event is a joint production of NBC Universal and Donald Trump, who also organize Miss Universe and Miss USA.
In the press release, Future Productions states that more than $1.3 million in scholarships will be available at the pageant and 30 contestants “will be receiving college scholarships.”
“In addition, this year’s state titleholders will each receive thousands of dollars in prizes and awards,” read the press release. They may also compete for Miss Teen USA.