MASSENA - With a simple photo posted online of her sneaking a peek at a Playboy magazine that was stuck between the pages of another book, April M. Castagnier has found herself in the finals of the publications September Miss Social contest.
Ms. Castagnier said she first heard about the contest last month after seeing a Facebook posting about it, but she did her homework before deciding to enter herself.
I heard about this competition from none other than social media, she said. I researched the contest and how it worked extensively before entering. In my research I learned a lot about Playboy and its founder, Hugh Hefner.
The results of her research - coupled with the fact that the contest actually has rules against nudity - made her feel comfortable entering.
Playboy is one of the most recognized brands throughout the world, and theyre very highly reputable, she said.
To enter the contest, Ms. Castagnier created a profile on the Miss Social site, posting a brief biography about herself and several photos. Her berth in the finals, which start on Sept. 25, was earned after a photo she posted to her profile won that weeks photo challenge.
She explained that each week contestants are challenged to post a different themed photo. This weeks challenge includes contestants in workout gear. The challenge she won was titled Extracurricular.
At this point, Ms. Castagnier said she is encouraging her supporters to hold their votes until the finals, noting her challenge victory guarantees her a spot there.
I won a competition so Im guaranteed a spot in the finals, she said. If you would like to vote, please save your votes for the finals.
Voting for the contest is handled through a free Facebook app and for people worried about having their names associated with Playboy, Ms. Castagnier said they can choose to participate anonymously and not have their activity posted to their profiles.
Votes are earned by logging on to the site each day, scrolling through profiles, looking at photos and even participating in fun mini-games.
She said she decided to enter the contest because she was hoping it could open some doors for her both in her professional and personal life.
I entered this competition in hopes of opening up new avenues, not necessarily with just modeling, but for life in general, she said. Through this competition I have met so many amazing people from all different walks of life. It has allowed me to see outside of a small town and in the same sense learn to appreciate and be grateful for everything I have.
While her friends and family initially had some reservations about the contest, Ms. Castagnier said those concerns were alleviated once they began looking at the profiles of other contestants.
At first they had some reservations, as most people normally would, with the misconceptions that Playboy is all nude and exploits women, she said. But once they saw all the work that went into and the other profiles, they realized it was more than just a photo contest and that it could lead to other opportunities.
While shes not sure what the contest will ultimately lead to, she said has no intentions of leaving Massena. My intentions are to stay in Massena, raise my family, work hard and be able to do something Im passionate about on the side, she said.
In fact one of the question contestants are asked to answer on their profile is what are five things they couldnt live without - Ms. Castagniers answers... My kids, my family, fabulous friends, my animals and Kit Kats, which she noted were her guilty pleasure.
While Ms. Castagnier said she is worried about people misconstruing her involvement in the contest, she noted that her photos will not appear in the magazine and pointed to such noted and respectable women as Farrah Fawcett, Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford and even Vanna White, who have all appeared in Playboys pages over the years.
This contest is about being real and being able to relate well to others, she said. It is non-nude and a contest for your everyday woman. This contest is about branching out and new opportunities. At the end of the day, I am still April Castagnier, mom, daughter, dog groomer, and student from Massena, N.Y., a small town girl who is taking a shot at something to gain knowledge, respect and open new doors.
Ms. Castagnier, who may be contacted through her Facebook page, even said she would even be willing to help others from the area who may be interested in entering the contest themselves.
I may not be the most beautiful girl in Massena or the north country, but I am using this as a platform for better things in my familys future and as a way to show that any woman can do this and be proud of herself, she said, calling the competition a positive and educational opportunity.
Should Ms. Castagnier be successful in her efforts, she will win a trip to the Playboy mansion, which includes a non-nude photo shoot, as well as a tour of the mansion and Playboy headquarters.
That prize she would win simply for winning a monthly contest. In order to be entered into Februarys Miss Social of the year competition, Ms. Castagnier said she must reach the final four of any given months competition.
She explained that the contest is a year-long competition that resets itself each month.
And regardless of whether or not she wins a prize, Ms. Castagnier said she already considers herself a winner.
This isnt just about the actual prize. I will walk away with more experience and knowledge, as well as gain lifelong friends, she said. This competition has taught me so much about myself and will allow me to take what I have learned and use it in the future, whether it be in business or life in general.
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