Bishop native vies for Miss California crown
There are those who bemoan their various misfortunes, and in many cases, dwell on their misfortunes, never get past their misfortunes. Their misfortunes define them.
And there are those who transform their misfortunes into blessings, for both themselves and others.
Kristina Blüm [pronounced bloom] is the latter, a transformer.
For starters, let’s talk about who Ms. Blüm is. She’s 22 years old. She is Miss City of Bishop (emeritus), having served from November 2012 until the beginning of this month. She works part-time at the Bishop Chamber of Commerce. She is in the process of earning an English degree from Verity Institute in Indiana (which is affiliated with Thomas Edison State College of New Jersey).
Born and raised in Bishop, she is the daughter of Teresa and Sam Blüm, and has an older sister Kaylyn, 24, and a younger brother Wesley, 17.
She is currently dating a nice young man, Micah Williams, whom she met at college in Indiana. Blüm spent her first two years of college on campus in Indiana, before deciding to complete her studies online from home. Mr. Williams works at Creekside in Bishop. You may also know him from his star turn playing Tom Robinson in Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre’s recent production of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
Kristina is also legally blind. Has been since birth.
You see, Kristina was born with albinism, a genetic condition where a person lacks pigmentation in their skin, hair and eyes.
As Kristina describes it, she has a full range of vision, however, her optic nerve is underdeveloped.
In bright surroundings, she can’t see a thing. In darker settings, she does better. On a positive note, her condition is not degenerative.
Her parents did not know they each carried the albinism gene. For albinism to occur, each parent must carry the gene, and the odds of a child of carrying parents being albino is one-in-four.
Neither of Kristina’s siblings are albino.
This, of course, leads to a discussion of the term “albino.” Kristina says that some don’t like the term “albino” because they feel it carries a negative connotation, and in some cultures, superstition makes albinos out to be demons said to possess magical powers.
However, in other cultures, albinos are seen as lucky. Sometimes, says Kristina, people approach her and wish to shake her hand because they believe it will bring them good luck.
People are bizarre.
Kristina herself says she wouldn’t trade a thing about her self, though she says with a laugh, “I can’t get away with anything … I stand out.” But, she adds, standing out also has its advantages. “It gives me a great opportunity to encourage [others].”
Miss City of Bishop
Kristina Blüm never imagined in a million years that she’d be participating in beauty pageants.
She said that her mother saw an advertisement for the Miss City of Bishop pageant last year and encouraged her to enter, but Kristina demurred. “I said no way. I don’t like the idea of traditional beauty pageants.”
But then she decided to place a call to the pageant’s director, Kristina Roberts. Roberts assured her that the pageant would be judged on more than a swimsuit (in fact, Bishop’s pageant has no swimsuit component). Rather, the contest was based on inner beauty, character, community involvement.
Roberts told her that it was her vision that the Miss City of Bishop would serve as an inspiration and encouragement to young women.
“Seeing as we were on the same page,” said Blüm, “I decided to do it.” And out of six contestants, she won.
Sheet: What did winning mean?
Blüm: A lot of work!
Kristina said that during her one-year reign, she estimates spending about 400 volunteer hours, appearing at various events and functions. On the bright side, her volunteer work at the Bishop Chamber of Commerce has morphed into a part-time paid position.
Kristina now has her sights set on the Miss California pageant, which will take place January 2-4 in Long Beach.
While the Miss California pageant is more traditional, and includes parts like the swimsuit competition that Kristina doesn’t support, she also feels like she can effect change more from within than without.
“I’m going there as myself, period. Yes, I will do the swimsuit part, even if it is worlds away from my comfort zone.”
There are a total of 300 participants who will be competing in the Miss California and Miss Teen California competitions in Long Beach. Because Kristina is the only person from this area who will be competing, she doesn’t have to compete in a preliminary round, but goes straight to state.
The cost is not insignificant, and she is raising money for the trip. If you’d like to help, contact her at email@example.com.
Kristina says that she loves writing and will continue to pursue that. She also hopes to get a Masters Degree in International Development so she can help those in other countries with disabilities.
Her inspirations are Jill Kinmont Boothe, Marta Beckett, the 89-year old actress, dancer, choreographer who owns the Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley and Dave McCoy. She said her father Sam used to work for Dave, and she said that when her Dad broke his arm on the job, Dave visited him in the hospital.
“Dad appreciated [Dave’s] the example of loving what you do and caring for others.”