Beauty queen seeing backlash over racy photos

By Curt Autry - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As far as local bartenders go, you'd be hard pressed to find one easier on the eyes than 24-year-old Tatiana Mendez. When she's not mixing drinks, Tatiana has established herself as a national beauty queen.

With no experience in pageants, just last month she competed for the crown of the Miss American Queen pageant in Florida and won.

You may also see Tatiana around town posing for any number of different fashion photographers. She's in big demand but unlike many beauty queens, Tatiana says she has no real interest in fashion modeling as a career:

"I do it more for the art. If I'm charging people, it kinda taints it a bit," said Tatiana.

But it's her "hobby" as a model that has at least one person calling for her crown. Tatiana has some racy pics that have been posted on-line by different fashion photographers. There are no "full-nudes," but she does appear in various states "undress" in some of them.

Soon after she was crowned, the pageant started receiving complaint e-mails. On the pageant's list of rules -- rule number three reads: "Must never have appeared in nude or distasteful photos or videos."

Listen to one of the complainers, who wishes to remain anonymous:

"I think it's disgusting. She's gonna be talking to young kids. I can't imagine a young child seeing a woman covered in liquid latex, and it even be considered beautiful. It's not beautiful. I think it's trashy."

Tatiana thinks the smear campaign is orchestrated by a former friend, who has a personal axe to grind.

But is she embarrassed by these racy photos?

"I'm not in Playboy. I'm not in Maxim. I'm not naked, but people see anything. 'Oh. She's pretty, and she's wearing a leotard or she's wearing a bikini, oh my god - she's obviously not wholesome enough for this,'" Tatiana said.

Tatiana says she's done nothing wrong and the pageant agrees. In an e-mail to NBC12, one pageant official writes: "After looking at her pictures...I don't think there is anything wrong with them. Tatiana is a great representative."

This whole ordeal has soured Tatiana on the whole pageant scene. She's ready to move forward, and start her career.

"I don't want to model professionally. It's fun to me -- it's cool -- and that's it. I wanna go be a criminal profiler. I have other interests," she said.

Tatiana is still bartending, and studying to take the L-SAT, with her eye on law school.

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