Kindness and Chaos

The Fabulous Fuhry of an Ordinary Girl


Joy Thieves with Tiffany

I’m so excited about today’s post. When I thought of who I wanted to write with me about Joy Thieves, I immediately thought of Tiffany. I admire her tenacity, strength, and grace both now and in the midst of what she is sharing with you today. Tiffany has kindly opened up about a hurtful experience in her life that was on display for all to see. I heard of Tiffany before I ever actually met her, and everything I heard was absolutely false. I was amazed at her kindness, generosity, and wit; Even to some no name hometown pageant winner like me. While she and I have never grabbed a coffee or gabbed over cheesecake, I consider Tiffany a friend. I enjoy her style, honesty, sarcasm, and love of sweet treats. A coffee addict, history buff and wannabe jet setter, Tiffany is a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. You can follow her on Instagram @ttolbert and on her blog
Please welcome her to Kindness and Chaos!


My story as a beauty queen isn’t all rhinestones and smiles. My crowning moments were often overshadowed by drama and controversy. My dream of becoming Miss America didn’t come true and it was often bitterness and hurt that seeped through the cracks of my perfectly painted on exterior.

I started competing when I was 15 years old in the teen system in Oklahoma. I was 1st Runner Up in my first pageant, Miss Teen Oklahoma, what is now Miss Oklahoma’s Outstanding Teen. The next year I was 2nd Runner Up. I was disappointed in the outcome but ready to move on to the big leagues.

And just for the record, pageants are no joke. I credit much of my stamina as a Nurse Practitioner, working 24 hour shifts in the NICU, to pageant prep. It was hard work and often required 18 hour days driving into to the city for appointments, scheduling, paperwork, doing school assemblies, voice lessons, two-a-day workouts and keeping up with current events all while in nursing school full time. If pageant girls are known for one thing it’s hard work. We get stuff done and we do it right.

I competed in Miss Oklahoma for the first time at age 17 and made the top 10. At that time it was unheard of for rookies to break the 10 and that year a rookie went on to sweep the pageant becoming Miss Oklahoma and then Miss America 7 months later.

Long story short, I would go on to compete three more times being 1st Runner Up two years in a row and then finally 3rd Runner Up at the end of my career in pageants. I never wore the crown, but that wasn’t my ultimate disappointment. Sure, I was hurt, rejection is hard on any level, but I had a shadow following me for the last 4 years I was involved in the system (I sat out for a year after I was 1st Runner Up twice).

I was bullied incessantly on an online voy forum by an anonymous poster. They called me ugly, said I had no talent, followed me around town and took pictures of me to provoke conversations about me so they could spew their venom. They called me a liar. Said I didn’t go to school where I said I was going to. Said I would never be Miss Oklahoma because I went to a less than prestigious Community College (I just graduated last August from Vanderbilt University with my Masters in Nursing. #boom) and I couldn’t be a role model because I was rude and condescending. I had gone on this forum multiple times pleading with them to reveal their identity to me in private so I could apologize for what I had done to them and right the wrong only for them to twist my words even more and use them against me in future posts. It went on for four years. I had a 3 inch 3 ring binder full of pages of their posts. I even got a lawyer involved to sue for slander to no avail. There weren’t any laws regulating online bullying at the time. The judge who saw my case said I was a public figure and being subjected to judgements and criticism were apart of the job description. But these weren’t judgements. They were false accusations. Saying I threw fits backstage when I didn’t get my way and posts telling people I had multiple plastic surgeries to win a pageant isn’t criticism. It’s lies. It was an attempt to destroy my character and my reputation.

It was a nightmare and now that I am out from underneath it all I have realized becoming Miss Oklahoma for me had become a lot about proving them wrong and not a lot about being a better me. They had stolen my voice, my esteem and my joy. Every move I made had to be so calculated as to avoid them attacking me and I often questioned if competing was worth it. I was obsessed with checking the site everyday to see what they said about me. I would tell myself those comments didn’t hurt, they only made me stronger but at the end of the day there were two liars involved, them lying about me and me lying to myself.

I pressed on and surrounded myself with those who would lift me up and make me a better person. My family, friends and directors made all the difference. They spoke peace and encouragement and ultimately grace into my life.

I finally trashed that 3 ring binder. I realized letting anyone be in charge of my emotions and attitudes for the day wasn’t what God wanted for me. I wasn’t Miss Oklahoma for a reason. I know that reason now and I’m okay with it. What I’m not okay with is letting someone make me feel like I am less than who God says I am ever again. My joy comes from an endless well of unconditional love that only He can provide. I can be comfortable in who I am even in the darkest of times because I know he carries me. He bears my burdens and celebrates my victories. He is my first and His word is always last. And that, I find joy in.


Tiffany Tolbert • January 22, 2015

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  1. momma January 22, 2015 - 9:27 am Reply

    Thank you for sharing Tiffany. You are beautiful inside and out.

  2. Valerie Ornatowski January 22, 2015 - 9:47 am Reply

    People stoop pretty low at times, but Praise God He is always there .

  3. Jennifer Warren Zabel January 22, 2015 - 9:59 am Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story Tiffany. While maybe not as extreme, I too had very harsh, hate-filled lies written about me on the very forum you speak of. Most of the people in the system are there to build-up and empower young women to become their best selves and change their surroundings for the better. In the contrary, unfortunately, there are those who have lost sight of that fact and speak words that leave lasting wounds in young impressionable women. I love that you know where your worth comes from and Who has the power to tell you who you are. You are serving as a role model now sweet girl!

  4. barb January 22, 2015 - 6:30 pm Reply

    Have known this young lady for a number of years… beautiful inside and out!!!

  5. Judy Jackson January 22, 2015 - 7:49 pm Reply

    Beautiful words Tiffany! You have a heart of gold and have blessed so many lives, including mine! Pageants don’t define a girl, but they sure help you get ready for the future. You have taken your skills to the moon and back! I’m so proud of you and love you lots!

  6. Tracie Ross Ross Calvin January 22, 2015 - 8:51 pm Reply

    As a local director in this system for over ten years I have watched so many amazing women compete. I was a judge the year you won Miss Claremore and was so impressed with you, and was a fan for life. As much good as this system does for empowering young women, I have also witnessed the hurt and negativity that, at times, has made me question my involvement in a volunteer activity filled with such drama. But then I remember the Tiffanys, the Jennifer’s, the Lauren’s, the Kelsey’s, the endless list of amazing, talented, spunky and selfless women that this amazing organization has produced, and I am reminded of why I do what I do as a director. I am reminded that I will not allow the negative haters to rob me of the joy that a I get from my part in all of this as a local director. I always say that I get back way more from the contestants than I give. thank you for sharing your story and for being a positive role model and shining example of what this system does to empower and promote education and community service!

  7. Onita Johnson January 23, 2015 - 11:03 am Reply

    Tiffany you are an absolute gift from God and He has blessed you with so much and I am so proud to call you my niece. Love your talents and your spirit and you make all of us who are family so happy that you belong to us.

  8. Debbie Kendall January 25, 2015 - 11:08 am Reply

    My heart hurts with you. In all my years as traveling companion for Miss Oklahoma’s and Miss America, I have heard this over and over. I have never visited the site you are referring to, but at some point most of my girls have been hurt by this. I’ve laid in bed and listened to these stories come through tears. I am so sorry it happened to you. I believe we are put in different situations so we will know how to help others. When I became a counselor, I started asking myself three questions: “Is this for me? Is this for them? Or am I doing it for God? The answer had to always be all three.
    I am so proud of you and would have loved to be with you.
    Your gift was in becoming the person you are.
    You have helped yourself, others, and given the glory to God.
    You will always be a blessing to us.

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