Lake Tapps Middle School student Chloe Furnstahl wears many hats, from artist to theater performer to basketball star.
And now she wears one more — the Miss Pierce County Outstanding Teen crown.
Chloe, 14, was awarded her title on March 3 during the pageant at Pierce College.
She was surprised to win the crown, Chloe said, partly because this was her first year competing.
But she was indirectly involved with the Miss Pierce County pageant — which feeds into the broader national Miss America competition — for many years.
“My mom was a choreographer for them when I was a little bit younger, and I would always have a basketball tournament before rehearsals with the girls,” she said. “I always watched her with all the girls in their fancy heels and pretty dresses and I really wanted to be a part of that.”
There are many parts to the competition, including a fitness program, an interview with judges, and the talent portion, for which Chloe dances to “Never Enough,” from “The Greatest Showman” starring Hugh Jackman.
Her favorite part of the competition was when the girls showed off their evening gowns, because, “I got to look at everyone else’s evening gowns and see how they looked, and they all looked so beautiful,” she recalled. “It’s an amazing room of amazing, beautiful girls.”
But while the majority of the pageant is glitz and glam, Chloe’s platform brings with it the weight of millions of women from around the world.
Her platform, “Victims to Victorious,” focuses on how difficult it can be to bring charges against an abuser and how labyrinthian the legal system can be, which Chloe witnessed firsthand.
“I have a very personal experience with sexual assault, and I feel there is no better time than now to act on what is happening today,” she said. “It needs to be stopped.”
When Chloe was seven, an adult assaulted her many times over the course of a year. A jury ruled in her favor, but only after five agonizing years in the legal system.
Now Chloe wants to help others stand up and join the #MeToo movement, with the ultimate goal of changing laws to make it easier for survivors to get justice.
But right now, she wants to make sure other survivors know they are not alone.
“We plan to make vlogs and maybe a blog to help boys and girls protect themselves, and if they know someone, they can help them,” Chloe said. “It’s saying there’s support, that they’re not alone.”
Chloe will be taking her platform and talent to the Miss Washington Outstanding Teen competition on Memorial Day. May 26, at the Highline Performing Arts Center in Burien.
The winner of the state pageant will move on to the Miss America Outstanding Teen competition, held in Orlando, Florida in late July.