Ideal. Actor. Welder.
It’s not a modern remake of the 1980s flick “Flashdance.” This is Amber’s 21st-century reality and she couldn’t be prouder of her trajectory.
Amber (born Amber Davis) is the first and current title holder for Miss Voluptous Minnesota, but her childhood was certainly not a children’s pageant circuit. While other aspiring beauty queens were practicing their posture in frilly dress and makeup, Amber Howard was repairing small engines at an old hog-farm-junkyard in Lake.
“I was raised in a unique way,” Amber said. “My childhood was a job.”
Unable to work due to her father’s injury, Amber and her siblings did not get the chance to do many sports or extra-curricular activities. He did what he needed to do to bring in the money and keep the family afloat. “Anything to make a penny,” she said.
No “traditional” gender roles were followed at Davis Farm. As Amber explained, if someone asked for a babysitter, one of them left. If someone needed something welded, one of them took care of it. “It gave us opportunities,” she offered.
Today, the 29-year-old Chaska transplant still isn’t going to turn down an opportunity. “I’ve always wanted to try anything,” she said. And try the things she has – everything from cooking school and bartending classes to nunning and singing to stand-up comedy and modeling.
“I am very ambitious.
“Ninety percent of what I am today came from my upbringing.”
For the past seven years Amber has worked in Landscape Structures at Delano, helping to create unique commercial playground equipment. She started in concrete and welding and is now supervising operations.
If her day job seems a bit gritty, she balances it with a lot of makeup and frills in her spare time. When she’s not working in landscape structures, Amber’s tracking down leads to acting gigs or a modeling job. “I’m curling my hair in the gas station bathroom on my way to the job,” she laughed.
“It’s not easy, but it’s fun.”
With dreams of leading actress Melissa McCarthy in movies or featuring plus-size model Erica Lauren in the pages of magazines, Amber dreams of moving to L.A. one day. “I want to earn the right to go there,” she said.
Pageants are ripe to provide such opportunities. Amber entered her first pageant – Miss Maple Lake at the age of 16. “I knew I didn’t have the body type, but I wanted experience,” she explained.
During the pageant, Amber couldn’t help comparing herself to the other contestants and eventually found herself knocked down. “Then, I realized, I’m still here,” she said. “No one is stopping me from trying it.”
“I won’t win anything, but I told myself I wanted to try it again.”
Last year, Amber had a chance at the Miss MN USA pageant. This time, she did not doubt herself and tried her best to lift her fellow contestants as well. And when she did not win the title, she was named Miss Congeniality 2020. “It was an honor to be voted by other girls,” she said.
Next spring, Amber will represent Minnesota as she competes in the Miss Voluptous International pageant in Nashville, Tennessee. According to the pageant website, they “want more than just a plus-size model in a crown. We’re looking for women who really want to make a difference, and who have the skills to be a true role model in their communities.” What is there to adopt the manners and characteristics of a qualified title holder.”
Ember’s platform is to “break down barriers and support beauty in every shape.” It is a message she lives by every day and tries to spread every chance she gets.
“You have a body that will carry you for the rest of your life,” she said.
You shouldn’t love your body only 10% of that ‘one’ size for life.”
Amber admits that being body positive isn’t always easy – especially when dealing with internet trolls. She couldn’t help but cry when someone posted a negative comment on a photo of her in her sash and crown riding a motorcycle at the parade. “That’s an injury – but it just shows how much more we need to do it.”
“I’m going to make a difference,” she declared defensively. “And the opponents will have to watch me fly by on my success.”