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Lindsay Closson hopes to make history at the Mrs. International pageant this weekend.

This weekend, the 2017 Mrs. Texas International title holder competes for the title of Mrs. International in Charleston, W.V., but her hair isn’t the only part of her that’s bumped up. She happens to be 33 weeks pregnant, too.

Grapevine resident Lindsay Closson won the state title last February. She’ll be the only woman onstage who is visibly pregnant, but her pregnancy will likely drive home the point of her platform, which is “Braving Infertility.”

“There are several pageant systems for married women,” she explained. “What drew me to Mrs. International specifically was that it’s a platform-based program, so over half of your overall score comes from your platform, your story, the nonprofit that you will spend the year promoting, as opposed to being mainly a beauty contest.”

For almost six years, Closson and her husband tried to conceive without success. Although some doctors can clearly identify a couple’s source of fertility challenges, the Clossons’ experience was categorized as “unexplained infertility.” After two failed intrauterine insemination procedures, two failed Clomid cycles, one miscarriage, and two hysterosalpingogram scans, they finally won big with a baby boy, due in late September.

Closson spent almost as long competing for the state title she currently holds — five attempts, to be exact. She’s still surprised that both her pregnancy and this year’s pageant victory overlapped, but the former has made her more relaxed about this next leg of competition, when she’ll go head-to-heel with 64 other title holders.

“Having competed on the state level for several years, I’ve built up this beautiful wardrobe of clothes that I would have eventually taken to a national competition with me, but none of those fit now,” she laughed. “Finding cute, trendy maternity options was a bit of a challenge, but that’s so minimal and not even a struggle or a worry either. They’re just clothes, but that has been interesting.”

She isn’t sure how the judges will respond when they see her onstage in her sporty one-piece swimsuit, and she isn’t sure what past pregnant competitors have experienced in terms of judges’ reactions. What’s been interesting, though, is how people assume the judges will score her with more scrutiny because she’s obviously with child.  

“There are some people who automatically doubt how well you can do at the national level based on your pregnancy, because no woman has ever won in her eighth month of pregnancy before,” she explained. “People say, ‘Oh, that’s too bad that you’re pregnant.’ They don’t mean that, obviously, but there’s a sense of all that mattering in a traditional beauty pageant. We’ll see. I do believe there’s a first time for everything.”

Having stayed in good health throughout her trimesters, Closson has taken a different outlook on pregnancy that some wouldn’t expect. “The one thing I’m learning about pregnancy is that it doesn’t limit you, but it empowers you,” she said. “Knowing this pregnancy doesn’t change my ability to compete in a pageant, which is a dream I’ve had since I was a very little girl, but it empowers me to change my perspective and to … weave that perspective into becoming a new mom. I think that I’m now empowered to take care of this new life as opposed to what I can’t do, and that’s something I’m going to try to remember on the tougher days.” 

No matter what happens onstage this week, Closson cares more about the message she’s sending to women watching her, especially the one in eight women who will be or has been challenged by infertility. “Because of social media these days, we often see stories of people’s success without seeing their struggle,” said Closson. “That’s what I want people to see most is that this didn’t happen for us overnight. There was a struggle behind our story, and to be in that space is OK. No matter your diagnosis, you have something to look forward to. There is always hope.”

As soon as the pageant is finished, Closson said she’s going to do three things: hug her husband, sleep, and reconnect with her favorite dessert. “As soon as we get back to Texas, I am going to go to Andy’s Frozen Custard for a homemade strawberry shortcake sundae,” she said, adding that she’s had only one of these frozen treats throughout her pregnancy. She’s looking forward to having several more.

The rounds of pageant competition last all week. The 15 finalists will be aired via a live streaming service at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Visit Mrsinternational.com for more details.

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