Prairie Wife of the Week: Deborah Tyra from Kim of Queens #giveaway
Posted October 2, 2015 by Prairie Wife - 9 comments
I’ve said it time and again, and I’m sure you’ll hear it from me again…I am so thankful for all the amazing people I have come in contact with through this blog. When I interviewed Kim Gravel of the Lifetime Show Kim of Queens I also began to follow a few of my favorite ladies from the show. One of those ladies, Deborah Tyra, also know as Hannah’s mom and “Barbie Mama”, took an interest in the blog and we began to chat back and forth. When it became clear that Kim of Queens was not going to be renewed for a third season I knew I had to interview Deborah and share more of her story with her fans. She’s a busy woman between her work and taking care of her family, and when we were finally able to chat I was instantly charmed by her Southern belle demeanor. Classy, truthful and sweet as peach pie, it was an absolute joy to talk with Deb! Her ability to laugh at the ups and downs of the last few years, her unwavering faith in God, and confidence a bright future lies ahead for her and her family, make her the perfect Prairie Wife of the Week!
Make sure you take a minute to enter our giveaway at the end of the blog. You’ll win an autographed picture of Hannah as well as your very own tiara!
Prairie Wife (PW): First tell us a little bit about your family.
Deborah Tyra (DT): I am a native Atlantian, which is very rare! Growing up I was your typical southern bell. My father had a huge farm and even though I would help feed, I would still have on my high heels! I currently live in Braselton, GA with my husband of 14 years, my daughter Hannah and our sweet dog Cody (I call him my son). My husband owns an embroidery and screen printing shop. I’m technically a stay at home mom but I work several side jobs to help supplement our income.
PW: You first became a household name when you and your daughter Hannah appeared on Kim Gravel’s show Kim of Queens which was on Lifetime for two seasons. What was that experience like for you?
DT: It was the highlight of our lives! It has been such a big blessing, in so many unexpected ways. Kim has become an important part of not only my daughters’ life but, mine as well. She taught me to stop being “Barbie” and be real. Kim showed me that people would love me more if I was just myself. Which of course is still a bit “Barbie” ! The show let us show people who we really are, the good and the bad, the ups and the downs.
PW: As you watched the show on TV were there any moments that made you cringe?
DT: Yes! The Nashville scene where Kim thought Hannah was too young to enter the pageant and I entered her anyway. I’m not embarrassed that I didn’t listen to her, I knew it was the right choice to enter her in the pageant (and if you recall she won). In the interview I called her a witch and the show changed it to bitch! I would never call her that, I called Kim right away and told her that I didn’t say that, I would NEVER say that about anyone, least of all her. Thankfully she believed me! I have to tell you, I didn’t go to church for two weeks. It’s not who I am at all, I was so ashamed.
PW: Do you and Hannah still attend Kim Gravel’s Pageant Place for training?
DT: She actually closed down the Pageant Place and her regular classes; because she’s so busy with The Steve Harvey Show (we are so proud of her and love watching her on that show). Hannah still consults with Kim and we remain friends and meet as often as we can for lunch. Hannah is getting ready to enter Outstanding Teen (the teen version of Miss America) and we will be working one on one with Kim to train for this.
PW: You are a past beauty pageant contestant (and winner) yourself, as well as a pageant mom to your daughter Hannah. What advice or words of caution do you have for other moms out there that may be considering placing their daughters in pageants?
DT: Always pray before you compete. Keep your opinions to yourself about the other girls. Focus on your daughter and always remember that she is competing against herself. When you start worrying about the other contestants you get caught up in the drama and start doubting yourself. This is an opportunity to bring you and your daughter closer. It’s an activity that both of you can do together. With Hannah I’ve seen how it has brought her out of her shell and taught her how communicate. Pageants can be bad if you don’t listen, make sure it’s your child’s wish to participate not yours. Seeing Hannah in pageants reminds me of how proud I am of her, I still cry every time she does the beauty competition. Also, the interview portion is an amazing opportunity to talk about issues that will help her to become a better woman.
Be aware, it is an expensive activity. The local events are usually reasonable and cost “only” $85-100 to enter. Then you add gowns which you can spend as little or as much as you want. For each pageant you’ll need usually at least 3 outfits. I work to help offset the cost; my paychecks go right into the pageant fund! We were homeschooling Hannah which offered us some flexibility with out of town pageants. Now that she is enrolled in a Christian school we only let her do one out of town pageant a month. My daughter’s education is the most important thing! It’s always better to have a brain to go with your beauty. After all we all know beauty can fade or be gone in an instant, your education is forever!
PW: What does your husband think about the whole pageant scene?
DT: He always comes with me. He’s actually an ex college football player, he’s so manly, and it’s pretty funny to see him there. He understands the competition aspect of the pageants and that really appeals to him. He’s become a pageant dad, and I’m telling you he can pick the winners now like no bodies business. I also bring him along because it helps keep me out of the drama. With him there I’m not hanging out with the other moms and getting caught in the gossip trap, I take care of my business with Hannah and then go sit with him.
I have to also mention that my dad is her biggest fan and I’m so thankful for his support. If she has a gown that’s not in our budget chances are he’ll help her, and we are all so grateful for yet another strong male role model for her.
PW: For me, one of the most touching scenes in Season Two of Kim of Queens, is when Hannah and you both reveal to Kim that Hannah has been struggling with an eating disorder. Can you talk to us about how you discovered that Hannah was struggling, how you got her help, and what you continue to do to support her?
DT: For me that was a beautiful moment.
How I found out… Hannah has always been petite and a gymnast for so long, and because of these things it may have taken me longer than some other moms to notice what was happening. And she was only 10, so I wasn’t on the lookout for anything like this. At first I beat myself up about it, thinking it was about me and what I did. Perhaps it was how I dressed, or the pageants…the guilt was crushing. Now we’ve all been educated and I know that eating disorders can be hereditary. Hannah has had family members on both sides that have eating disorders. I didn’t realize that Hannah winning at everything was a red flag. She was at the top with cheerleading, gymnastics, pageants and school wise. I should have noticed that she was a perfectionist and OCD. There were so many things that she was trying to keep balanced, she felt like she needed to push, push, push. When things get out of control eating is always something you can control. For Hannah it wasn’t about her body image as much as it was about control.
One day Hannah got out of the shower and when I turned to hand her a towel I saw how gaunt she was. I saw something was going on so I rushed her to the doctor. We were thinking it was anemia or something medical as opposed to mental. When she weighed in we saw that she had gone from 75-54 in one year. The truth came out and they immediately put her in an ambulance. They wanted to put her in a residency program and I said “No way!” There was no way I was going to put her away and let someone else do the work. We are going to work together as a family with God.
We worked for a year. We met with a nutritionist and had counseling and weigh-ins every week. It consumed our lives. Finally I sat Hannah down for a serious talk. I said “You need to shut off that dark voice because it’s killing you.” That was a turning point for her, and us, and from then on we all began to heal. It will always be a battle for Hannah, and something that we need to keep an eye on. I have to be honest; it was the darkest year of my life. I’m so proud of my girl because she came back stronger than before. Now that I can see how our honesty and sharing of our story has helped other little girls, their mothers and their families… Well, I know now that none of it was in vain. God had a plan for us!
PW: You are very vocal about your faith in God on the show and your social media sites. Have you received any negativity because of this, and how do you deal with it?
DT: It’s strange; we have not received any negativity at all about it. Maybe God is protecting us! I’ve never had anyone question Hannah or I about my faith.
PW: Your daughter is very prevalent on a variety of social media sites. How do you ensure that she stays safe emotionally and physically with all this exposure?
DT: I have an Aunt that is an attorney that actually keeps track of Hannah’s Instagram. We’ve for sure had perverts and people that are sending inappropriate pictures to us. She monitors it and deletes the inappropriate comments and blocks the people that are being rude, negative, or obviously there for the wrong reasons. So this is how we make sure Hannah is protected. We can’t keep her from everything, so we talk about safety and how there are always going to be jerks everywhere you go. As far as negative comments the best choice for Hannah is ignoring them!
PW: What advice do you have for moms with tween and teen girls that are on social media sites?
DT: You need to be on those sites with them, monitor it yourself until they are 18, and keep the devices in your control. We have talks about positive ways to use social media and appropriate use. We have dinner together as a family every night and at 6pm the phone goes away. Which at 14 is becoming an issue, she’s not really happy about that and I’m open to changing the rules a bit as she gets older. In the end thought we all know that I’m the boss, and her behavior determines how flexible I’m going to be. Honestly, I know we are blessed that she is listening to us and understanding where we come from.
PW: Big news…you and Hannah are both playing roles in a new TV show called The Ortega Show! What can you tell us about it?
DT: It’s a wonderful show about immigrants that move from CA to the south. I’m the nosy neighbor and Hannah plays my daughter. I love that it’s a family type show, I’m really proud to be a part of it. The cast, crew, writers, and all the people behind the scenes are just amazingly talented! We are just waiting to see where it will up later this Fall…I’ll keep you posted!
PW: Where do you hope to see you and Hannah in the next few years?
DT: I hope Hannah continues to excel in her education and I just want to be by her side and support her in all that she desires to do! I hope the Ortega show takes off and I of course want Hannah to be Miss Georgia. Right now my focus is on my family, and I don’t see that changing.
PW: Any last Prairie Wife words of wisdom?
DT: Philippians 4:13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
To celebrate Deborah becoming our Prairie Wife of the Week she is giving away an autographed picture of Hannah and a tiara! All you HAVE to do is leave a comment below telling us what you think about this post! You can earn more points towards the giveaway by following us on social media. Please be honest we will be checking!
Categories: Prairie Wife of the Week