Ms. Darlene Aiken, voted twice for being one of the “Top 50 Most Influential Women in Long Island, New York Business Program, is the President/CEO of Inner Beauty Solutions, Inc and CEO/Director for the Miss Black Collegiate USA Scholarship Pageant. Ms. Aiken has a slogan, “Exposing Minds, Not Bodies” which reminds herself everyday of the vision she had 11 years ago of wanting to help young girls become strong "inner beauty" women. Atlanta, GA is the location for the 1st Annual Pageant to be held October 26 -28th, 2012 at the 26-story luxury all suite-Twelve Atlantic Station Hotel.
Ms. Aiken holds many other titles that include being an author, college adjunct lecturer, professional speaker, self-esteem expert and youth empowerment advocate. Although she has many titles, her main objective is helping others to enhance their self-esteem and inner beauty so they can love themselves, “reach for the stars” and also make the world a better place for themselves and others.
Ms. Aiken, you have many other accomplishments can you tell me what they are?
“I have taught sociology, personal growth, target social issues, and taught juvenile justice at a 4 year college. I have written an internationally published book “How to be a Young Lady: Your Total Guide for Being the Best Possible You”. It’s an interaction self-publication book. I have hosted workshops for girls with issues as anti-bully, self-esteem, leadership, and empowerment.
In these workshops, I may have a guest speaker or a demonstrative speaker. One known speaker who the girls really admired was Retired Women National Basketball Association (WNBA) Legend Kym Hampton from the New York Liberty. (Ms. Hampton spent 15 years playing professional basketball overseas and in the WNBA). Her teaching gave the young girls motivation how to think, how to discover their strong points, and how to work well with others as a team. This teaching style could be translated into these young ladies every day lives and their future.”
Having all the job titles you have now, at what point in your life did you realized you wanted to do what you are doing now?
"I suffered from tremendously low self-esteem in Jr. High School. It wasn’t until after I graduated from High School that I became involved in Community Service and then I realized there was something else I wanted to do. I had a calling and at that time and I wanted to give back.”
Being the success that you have become, what educational degrees have you earned?
“Bachelor Degree in Public Administration and Master Degree in Human Resource Management and I am currently taking an independent studies course at Yale University.”
With your degrees, how have they molded you for the present and the future?
“I’m a firm believer in education but to obtain these two degrees it shows an ability to go through a process and be more structured. What has really prepared me for this career is traveling, meeting people and real life experiences.”
How did you start Inner Beauty Solutions?
“First, I would like to say our slogan is “You’re Beautiful On The Outside When You Recognize Your Beauty On the Inside”. I started my incorporation over a decade ago. In my various professions, I saw many older women exhibit themselves with low self-esteem, which resulted in office gossip, jealousy, not able to work well with other women, and other unusual behavior. Then, I would see and hear young girls with low self-esteem. It bothered me so much that I became tired of talking about it and said I would do something about it.”
Do you cater any activities toward young males?
“I do incorporate young males in some of my activities but I have clients that have a male and female base they catered to but for most part I do not. I feel the problem with our young males now is that they received too much teaching from women. Women can’t teach young boys how to become men. It’s unfortunate that young boys try to go through their entire lives and educational career without having a male figure in their lives. So I feel more men must step up to the plate and teach young boys how to become men. A man is a strong figure and we really need them in our lives. I found out some young girls and even some older women low self esteem resulted from not having that father figure telling them how beautiful they were.”
Splash Magazine is affiliated with Atlanta and you reside in New York. Can you tell me more about this exciting project for which you chose Atlanta to be the hosting city?
“I am the Director and Founder of the Miss Black Collegiate USA Scholarship Pageant. I was chosen in “Exposing Minds, Not Bodies”. This pageant consists of African descendents in which we create an atmosphere where collegiate young ladies can win a scholarship. Our pageant is not based on the typical pageant outer beauty that society believes pageants are. We are looking for inner beauty, which displays from your civic engagement, an excellent Grade-Point-Average (GPA), interaction with others, their congenial attitudes, ability to write essay and etc. There are other things that are being considered but overall it’s the “Inner Beauty Solution”. We have really been working hard on the preparation of the 1st Annual Miss Black Collegiate USA Scholarship Pageant. I truly hope many will attend this event in major numbers. The young contestants across the United States have been working hard for this day and they deserved to be seen and heard.”
After the interviewed, I thanked Ms. Darlene Aiken, for taking time out of her busy-demanding schedule to talk with me. It was very enlightening and impressive. Comparing her vision from over a decade ago to the fact that it is now known internationally is astounding. Now, these young girls can become the best "inner beauty" women they can be because society needs them. Through speaking with Ms. Aiken, I could not help but remember what my Daily Word read the other day, which is so true “At any age, inner beauty radiates out through positive words and intentions. I stand before a mirror and affirm I AM BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT”. Together with that statement, Ms. Aiken has truly magnified this with her “Inner Beauty Solutions.”
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Photos are courtesy of Darlene Aiken’s facebook and website
Copyright © 2012.OCT This story was written by Renee Sudderth for Splash Magazine. It is not to be sold or reproduce without written permission of Renee Sudderth