Now that Natalie’s picture got us your attention…. You never know who is going to walk into Grunt Style! Natalie DeMarino walked in to do some modeling for the brand, but her big ass USA Petite Miss crown piqued our interest, especially when we heard she was active duty Army. And yeah, we know this is a little different than our typical content, but our goal is to mix it up sometimes.
DeMarino is currently serving as a 1st Lt. with Criminal Investigations Command at Fort Hood. The 24-year-old joined the ROTC program during her sophomore year of college, which is also when she broke into the world of pageantry. DeMarino said in her mind the two go together because they both involve physical fitness, speaking intelligently, and maintaining professionalism.
“I think pageantry has helped my military career because you don’t always win,” DeMarino said. “I have lost more than I have won and it’s the same way in the military. When you don’t win, you still have to be in the background smiling for the other girl. In the military, the Army is a people business and you have to be graceful, poised and do whatever needs to be done.”
When asked how her military peers feel about her pageantry career, DeMarino stated they are completely supportive and even interested in all that is involved. She also said it looks good on the Army as a whole when people are able to balance different things and perform well outside of their military role.
“As long as you look good out there and present a good image for the Army, it benefits everyone involved,” she said. “Most people are usually interested in how I got into it and what I actually do for pageants.”
Although she has been competing for several years, DeMarino only recently won the title of ‘USA Petite Miss.’ She said the difference between this and the ‘Miss America’ pageant that is most well known, is all in the name ‘petite.’ This pageant is specifically for women who are 5’6″ and shorter.
“One of my girlfriends, Jenna, said it best- ‘It’s not about the height, but the depth of the girl’,” she said. “We model, complete community service projects, and speak about our platforms to help impact our community.”
DeMarino’s platform is #bethere for suicide prevention and awareness. DeMarino chose this platform because it means a lot to her on a personal level, as well as professional. In 2016, she lost her uncle to suicide and she said it had a huge impact on her. She also stated working with CID, she sees suicide cases almost daily.
“My agents are working suicide cases all the time, and the numbers are increasing,” she stated. “We fight wars all over the world, but our biggest is on suicide and we are not winning. There needs to be light shed and ways to combat that.”
DeMarino stated that she will probably get out after her four year commitment to the Army. Her long-term professional goal is to become a “pink Cadillac-driving Mary Kay director” (as she put it). For now however, her immediate future brings another level to the Petite pageant- the international competition.
When asked about the perception of being extra ‘feminine’ in the military and how much it matters, DeMarino stated it all comes down to how you present yourself. She also stated that she knows quite a few women currently serving that are also into pageantry.
“It shows the diversity you are able to bring,” she said. “You do have to realize you are in a military setting and turn it on and off appropriately, but I do believe women are able to find that balance.”
She said the biggest thing she wants people to take away from her experiences are her platform message regarding suicide prevention and awareness, and taking opportunities as they are presented to you. DeMarino will be competing in June 2020 for the title of ‘Universal Petite Miss’ and looks forward to finishing out her Army career in Texas at Fort Hood.