The world of beauty pageants has received plenty of criticisms.

Some say such pageants reinforce harmful messages: starve yourself until you’re beautiful, that they objectify women, emphasizing beauty over brains. And Miss Utah’s recent cringe-inducing “create education better” comment didn’t exactly help.

But there are positives associated with pageants.

Omaha’s own Michele Strom is one of them.

She’s a former Nebraska beauty queen who stars in the TV series “Obsessed with the Dress.”

“Obsessed With the Dress” illustrates the less glamorous, somewhat gritty side of the beauty pageant world.

It also serves as a metaphor for the types of characters the WE television network tries to portray in its reality lineup, which currently includes “Bridezillas,” “Pregnant and Dating,” “L.A. Hair” and, as of Friday at 9 p.m., the new reality show set at Omaha’s Winning Crown Boutique.

Momaha recently caught up with Strom who shares more about the reality show, the pros and cons of beauty pageants, and offers advice to young women who visit her store.

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A few “Obsessed with the Dress” snapshots…

Michele and Sallie Loenzen

Michele Strom and Sallie Loenzen viewing dresses.




Michele Strom, a tall, blonde, somewhat intimidating divorced mother of two, opened the Winning Crown out of her home not long after winning her own crown. In preparation for the Mrs. Nebraska pageant, she had collaborated with a widely known pageant gown designer, designing aspects of her own dress. But she realized that wasn’t an option for many pageant contestants.

Tiffany Headley, the tattooed designer, had worked at the Winning Crown for about a year and a half before filming started. She was wary at first of working in an environment filled with cameras. Headley is an aspiring fashion designer — she’ll show a collection inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” during Omaha Fashion Week on Tuesday and again at Kansas City Fashion Week this fall.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit

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