Sometimes, when a woman grows insecure about her looks, her mother assures her that she is crazy and could be a model.

Generally the mother is the crazy one, lying blatantly to her daughter, but in Stephanie Nelson’s case, her mom was on to something.

Nelson, a fourth-year communication major, beat out 5,000 contestants from across the nation, claiming the Head Turner of the Year Award, sponsored by Head & Shoulders and Cosmopolitan magazine. Of the original competitors, 10 finalists were selected from Canada and the U.S. and featured on a website for five days so that residents of their respective countries could vote and determine who was the hottest head turner.

Nelson said her mom encouraged her to send in a headshot and a 40-word essay explaining why she makes passers-by rubberneck.

The results of the competition were broadcast on the KTLA “Morning Show” on May 18 and Nelson was announced the winner. She was soon contacted by judges to claim her a prize – an all expenses paid trip to New York, chauffeur included.

According to competition judge Vanessa Marcil – an actress on the television show “Las Vegas” – her decision was based on criteria consisting of more than just a pretty face.

The competition called for “someone with personal style, charisma and stand-out achievements,” according to Cosmopolitan’s website.

Nelson also said the competition was dependent on qualities other than appearance.

“I think the contest was less about hair and more about a girl who felt comfortable in her own skin,” Nelson said.

Indeed, first-year English major Hilary Vandenbroek said that while Nelson was attractive, getting hair like hers was not difficult.

“Anyone’s hair can look like that if you stick enough crap in it,” Vandenbroek said.

However, second-year environmental science major Sam Brockway said he disagreed. He said Nelson is relatively attractive on a scale of one to 10.

“She has a nice head and nice shoulders,” Brockway said. “I give her a 6.9.”

As the competition’s winner, Nelson received a three-day trip to New York, along with a makeover and a personal chauffeur. She was the star of an eight-hour photo shoot that will appear in an advertisement for Head & Shoulders shampoo.

Nelson said her first venture to New York was highly enjoyable.

“My driver took me to the photo shoot, and at the shoot I was completely pampered,” she said.

Nelson said reading the June issue of Cosmo and seeing her face on an advertisement was a surreal experience. She also said it thrilled her to receive support from her friends at UCSB.

“The most rewarding thing about the entire contest was seeing how many people support you and how many people want to see you succeed,” Nelson said. “I was overwhelmingly surprised by the amount of people who told me that they voted and who were so excited to see the ad.”