(Source: Deseret News;By: Sarah Petersen)

Sticking to her personal modesty standards is not something new for Bekah Pence. Earlier this year, the 29-year-old returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints searched tirelessly for appropriate formal wear as she competed for and eventually won the title of Ms. Virginia United States.

While preparing for her next pageant, the Ms. United States competition, Pence learned of three mandatory outfits that she did not feel comfortable wearing. Determined to compete only if the outfits could be altered, Pence once again found a way to uphold her standards. Throughout the pageant, she learned that her determination impacted many and even gave another contestant the courage to compete.

Pence learned of the mandatory outfits just weeks before the national competition for women ages 26 to 39 in Washington, D.C., on July 3.

“The opening-number dress was actually a very little, itty-bitty black dress, and even the other girls mentioned that they felt uncomfortable in it,” Pence said. “It was see-through on the side, so there was nothing really to the dress.”

Pence also learned of a mandatory bathing suit and a designer fashion show that would require her to wear one of the dresses offered.

“When I found out what they looked like, I was like, ‘I’m so sorry, but I can’t walk out on stage in that,’ ” Pence said.

Hoping exceptions could be made, Pence turned to her director, who approached the national directors of the Ms. United States pageant.

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