The new Miss Idaho, Ayriss Paije Torres, acknowledges she’s not your average beauty queen.
The 21-year-old Inkom resident and Idaho State University student is 5-foot-5 and wears size 10 clothing: She has a fairly normal body type in an arena dominated by tall and rail-thin woman.
As a civil affairs specialist with the U.S. Army Reserves, she’ll also be one for the first actively enlisted members of the military to vie for the title of Miss America.
Torres, who was selected from 10 contestants to be Miss Idaho on Saturday night in the Colonial Theater in Idaho Falls, believes she’s a prime example of how the Miss America Pageant is evolving to recognize “women are about so much more than beauty.”
“I’m a soldier. I’m built like a soldier,” Torres said, adding that the newly crowned Miss District of Columbia and Miss Colorado are also active military members. “That’s very important to see normal girls, normal body types — still beautiful exactly the way they are.”
In 2019, she enlisted in the Army Reserves in a position that will task her with providing humanitarian aid in the Asia Pacific Region. Prior to her enlistment, Torres traveled the country to dance competitively, specializing in Vaganova ballet. She’ll be performing a jazz dance routine while representing Idaho at the Miss America Pageant in Connecticut in December, during the famed pageant’s 100th anniversary.
Torres explained that the pageant underwent a rebranding a couple years ago, identifying as a scholarship competition for single women between the ages of 18 and 25 rather than just a beauty pageant. Torres was OK with participating in swimsuit competitions in past pageants but welcomes the changes.
“I’m now so grateful Miss America is more focused on our efforts in the community and what we plan to do in the future,” Torres said.
The new motto of the event is, “Preparing the world for great women and preparing great women for the world.”
Torres has won previous titles as Miss Gate City Outstanding Teen in 2016, when she went on to finish as second runner up for Miss Idaho Outstanding Teen, Miss Gate City 2018 and Miss Bonneville County 2020.
She also had the privilege of crowning her good friend Madison Andreason as 2017 Miss Gate City Outstanding Teen. Andreason, who is also an ISU student, won the Miss Teen Idaho crown on Saturday in Idaho Falls, and Torres will accompany Andreason to Orlando for the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant in late July.
Torres attended Highland High School. She’s majoring in political science and pre-law at ISU. In addition to tuition reimbursement from the federal government for her military service, she’s also won a $6,000 college scholarship for winning Miss Idaho. Her long-term goal is to become a civil rights attorney — and then Idaho’s first female governor.
She currently works as a loan officer for Idaho Central Credit Union in Chubbuck. As Miss Idaho, she plans to devote herself to teaching financial literacy to the public. She’s created an organization called Equity Project to teach wealth management and hopes to make it a nonprofit. Thus far, she’s primarily hosted financial literacy lessons via Zoom, but she plans to tour the state discussing financial strategies during “breakfasts with Miss Idaho.”
She’s set a good example of fiscal responsibility in her own life, having purchased her own home in Inkom at age 20. Her primary advice to those who will listen is that people don’t need to carry a balance on their credit cards to build credit.
As Miss Idaho, she’ll focus on LGBT issues; she’s an advocate for the Reading Time with the Queens program in Pocatello — a story time in which drag queens read to children.
Furthermore, she’s a member of the American Veterans Association and aims to raise awareness about that organization.
Among her hobbies, Torres enjoys hunting, snowboarding, hiking and fishing.
Her parents are Melissa Wright of Pocatello and Richard Torres of St. Louis. She also has two brothers, Treyl Torres and Beckam Torres, both of whom reside in Pocatello.