Christmas Eve 2008, two sisters are driving home from a family get together in an icy snow storm. Their vehicle hits black ice and swerves across the road and into an oncoming vehicle which sent the sisters careening straight into a tree. The older sister, who was a passenger in the car, was in critical condition and had to be airlifted to a hospital after she was cut from the car. Thankfully her internal injuries were able to be repaired and the damage to her spinal cord was not enough to paralyze her. After two months in a neck brace, bed rest, and grueling rehabilitation, the older sister was back on her feet and back at Philadelphia University finishing her MBA. Fast forward to November 2009, in true survivor style, Gina Cerilli (the older sister) strutted her stuff at the Miss Pennsylvania USA 2010 Pageant and takes home the title.Those who are close to Cerilli watched her in awe during her recovery as well as her emotional victory at the Miss Pennsylvania USA Pageant. Her strength and will to live got her through the accident, but her optimistic spirit and warm heart are why she is an inspiration to all.
Days after her accident there are pictures of her make-up free (and still beautiful as ever) in her hospital bed and neck brace, smiling to the camera giving two thumbs up. This brainy beauty (and former Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader) has won several national and international titles in her pageant past, but her return to the stage in 2009 was a testament to her strong character and effervescent personality.
As a former resident of Philadelphia, Gina is eager to fulfill her duties as Miss Pennsylvania USA 2010 in the city. Before she heads to the National Miss USA competition in April, Gina confesses some of her coveted beauty and style secrets. Read below as she reveals how she gets that gorgeous pageant hair, what she wears when she’s not in gorgeous gowns, and favorite Philadelphia destinations. Follow me @stylephilly and facebook.com/centercitystyle
Q: Secrets from the stage—we know you pageant girls have a ton of insider beauty knowledge: Dish!
A: My biggest secret is beauty sleep! Make-up just goes on so much easier if you get good nights sleep. Otherwise, I have huge bags under my eyes and they appear glassy. I will be in Vegas for about 3 weeks for Miss. USA and our schedule is packed with appearances, events, photo shoots, fashion shows, and rehearsals. Getting a full nights rest is going to be a challenge, but I will try to squeeze in as much as I can every night.
Everyone thinks pageant girls use Vaseline on their teeth. I have never used Vaseline, but my pageant secret is butt glue. We all use a sticky adhesive that you either spray or roll on your butt to make our swimsuit bottom stay in place. This is how we keep our bathing suits from riding up while we are modeling on stage! I also use MAC fake eyelashes on stage as well!
Q: You’re desperate for a last minute outfit…and you need to look stunning. Where do you go?
A: Definitely Bebe first (They always have the most trendy dresses, shirts, & shoes) I also love Nicole Miller’s in Manayunk & Center City. Neiman Marcus & Nordstrom are my other go to spots at the King of Prussia mall.
Q: Most embarrassing Fashion Moment?A: Oh I am sure all of my high school friends would have to say my most embarrassing fashion moment would be me wearing socks that color matched my dresses perfectly. I would hate wearing tights so I constantly wore socks. (although I was voted Miss. Vogue, as in Best Dressed, in high school in our yearbook)So that must have been my only huge fashion tragedy, but my friends will never let me live down my purple socks that I wore with a purple turtleneck and purple suede skirt with clogs. The sad part is that I thought it was the cutest outfit ever and couldn’t wait to wear my matching socks to school with it.
Q: Beauty Bag Must Haves?
A: My teasing comb and Big and Sexy Volumizing Root Spray (I love big hair, the bigger the better) My mom has taught me to always carry mascara as well; I will also always have blush, lip liner & gloss with me. My favorite mascara brand is Dior show in black by Dior
Q: Style Weakness? Shoes, Jewels, Designers?
A: Purses are by far my weakness. I love Gucci and Louie! I have to treat myself to one every year. I am still debating which one will be my next purchase; I recently realized they put a Gucci store in the King of Prussia Mall which I was very excited about! My mother and I love purses, but we are responsible about our purchases. We never just go into a store and make a big purchase on a whim. We always do our research and make sure it’s a bag that we love and won’t get sick of by the following year.
Q: Bum Clothes…stuck at home on a rainy day, what are you wearing?
A: Sweats! I am a huge fan of sweat pants & sweat shirts. I refused to wear sweats in high school (Didn’t even own a pair) However, once I got to college I don’t think I ever went to class in anything but sweats.
Q: Personal Style– how do you ensure that your inside is as wonderful as your outside?
A: It’s all about confidence in yourself and being the best person you can be. One of my first pageant directors told me when I was 7 years that, “It is nice to be important, but it is more important to always be nice.” Although I am a grown woman now, that is still a quote that I live by and will always remember.
Q: Last Words– any last words or wisdom, style mantras, or advice?
A: I travel a lot, so my best advice would be that if you’re ever not sure of what to wear or pack for an event. Pick something black. It’s always classy & you can dress it up or down with shoes and accessories.
Find more photos of Gina and details of her win on Miss Pennsylvania USA | Facebook or Miss Pennsylvania USA®.