10 Most Beautiful Women 2018 presented by Bharat Shah

The woman who receives the most online votes and brings the biggest crowd to Indulge will donate a portion of the event proceeds to her local charity of choice. The winner will be announced at Indulge on October 3.

What is your local 417-land charity of choice, and why is it important to you? 

The Springfield Dream Center. The Dream Center connects individuals and families in Zone 1 to resources all over our community. They have multiple programs available: a thrift store, diaper bank, food pantry, counseling, after-school programs, community dinners, etc. Most of all they provide a family-like culture to everyone who walks through their doors (regardless of reason). Their outreach connects people with the tools, partnering agencies or skill development to help reach their goals. The sense of family and acceptance extends to both those in need and volunteers. Everyone who walks through their doors leaves inspired and encouraged.

Do you volunteer, or are you involved in any philanthropic or community organizations? If so, what are they, and what do you do?

I volunteer with The Dream Center and a variety of their events. I am extremely supportive of their mission and have personally witnessed the impact they make on others, Zone 1 and our community.

I’m on the United Way Day of Caring committee to help plan one of the largest single volunteer days in the Springfield community. This is my first year on the committee, but I have participated in the event for over 6 years, and it is one of the first volunteer initiatives I joined when I decided to start giving back!

I partner with Convoy of Hope for their community events. Last year, I was the lead for children’s shoes and we supplied over 3,500 pairs of shoes to children in our area during the Springfield Community event last June. The hearts of the volunteers and families that attended had a bigger impact on my personal life than I can even put into words. It was the most remarkable day. 

I am also fortunate to work for an employer that sees the value in giving back. I was part of the small team who created and delivered the volunteer program for the employees. This program allows each employee the opportunity to give back as the company pays the employee for their volunteer time. This has also allowed me to connect with additional agencies and events to volunteer with during my own time, like HOPE Connection, Ozarks Food Harvest and Ronald McDonald House’s Tooth Truck.

What do you think makes a woman beautiful?

A beautiful woman (or man), is someone that is kind, humble and compassionate. How we treat others and how we treat ourselves is extremely important to the environment we create. 

What has been your proudest moment? Or, what are you most proud of?

The one thing I am most proud of day in, day out is easily the hearts that call me Aunt LaLa. My nieces are my world, and I would do anything for them. I love seeing the world through their eyes. It makes everything so fun and exciting! 

What was one particularly defining or life-changing moment in your life?

I experienced losing someone close to me to suicide at 15 years old and again at 30. I’ve learned you never “get over” the loss you have experienced, but you can always get through it. You eventually find that while you’ve been changed from the situation, you can survive and even grow from the challenge. My heart goes out to anyone that has experienced overwhelming feelings from losing someone to suicide.

Bharat Shah MD FACS

When you were a child, who did you think was the most beautiful woman? Why?

The reality is there is more than one beautiful woman in my life, even when I was young. My grandma Wiltshire, my mother, my sister and a handful of others. I have always been in awe of my grandma Wiltshire’s inner strength and beauty. She’s been a strong foundation for many in my family and has shown us that what happens around us doesn’t need to change what’s in us. She’s made sure that regardless of the path life takes her down, those around her know that God always provides and faith can be everything. Both my grandma Wiltshire and my mother have always led by example for the importance of showing up every day and working hard to reach your goals. They will sacrifice everything for those they love and have never wavered on the importance of unconditional love and acceptance of ourselves or others. 

What advice would you give to a young girl about being beautiful?

Being beautiful means to be yourself and happy with who you are becoming. Comparing yourself to others will cause you to regret what you aren’t rather than to enjoy everything you are. Focus on the joy and the happiness that is within you instead of placing it just outside your reach. Don’t let the unhealthy habit of comparison rob you of gratitude, joy and fulfillment or prevent you from living your life because you’re trying to live someone else’s. When you love who you are and are content in your journey, it’s usually contagious. 

What’s something that might surprise us about you, or a story you love to tell?

I very much enjoy solitude. My friends may not see me that way, but I’m very much an introvert, requiring time alone to recharge. Sometimes I am reserved and quiet, but it’s usually for no reason. Being outgoing is a learned skill, and sometimes I just fall back into the habit of being the observer in the room. 

What is your biggest source of inspiration?

My family, friends, colleagues and people in the community. We have a lot of heart and compassion in the area. I find it energizing to meet and be around so many people that want to restore hope in others.

Where do you find beauty in 417-land?

Nature. I love to go to the lake, kayak, hike or just be active outside. It’s the best way to disconnect and recharge. 

What do you think is the biggest issue or challenge 417-land is facing right now, and how would you tackle it? 

Mental health and the importance of self-care. Depression and anxiety do not discriminate, and we continue to see devastation and heartbreak as the rates for these things continue to increase. I think it takes all of us to create a better tomorrow, show others they matter and how important self-care can be. We need more awareness surrounding how to start tough conversations with those we love and the resources that are available in our community. We have amazing agencies like Borrow My Angel, Community Partnership of the Ozarks and the Crisis Help Line that supply free resources. Many aren’t aware that they can text the Crisis Help Line at 741741 when they are feeling depressed or suicidal and someone will text back with them immediately. Just because there are times we feel alone in our journey doesn’t mean that we are alone in the journey.

Fill in the blank: Friends would describe you as “The _____ One.” 


See the winners in the September issue!

Get to know our 10 Most Beautiful even better. Then, watch them walk the runway at 417 Magazine's Indulge on October 3 at Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.