The End of Miss America: Thoughts from a Former Pageant Girl

I had another post all planned and then I decided to share my thoughts....

I am a former pageant girl. Yup, I competed in the Miss America organization my freshman-senior years of college and then again my last year of eligibility at the age of 24.

This may come as no surprise to any of you, you see blonde, fit confident woman.

But back then, so much of that was a sham.

The Miss America Organization has undergone drastic changes in the past couple of months in light of the controversy surrounding its former CEO. And now under new leadership, it has again undergone drastic changes. Two days ago, former Miss America, Gretchen Carlson, announced the swimsuit competition is no more.

She also announced changes to the evening gown portion of the now named Miss America Competition. (Yup no more pageant).

I have mixed emotions.

You see, I devoted a hunk of my life to preparing for and competing in the Miss Texas Pageant.

I honed my talent, did copious mock interviews, read the news, watched the news, could talk on any major topic you wanted me to.

I volunteered numerous hours in schools and domestic violence centered organizations.

I was an advocate for women like me who grew up in homes shrouded in domestic violence.

I also worked out.

You see, when I decided to compete, I knew there was a swimsuit portion.

I openly chose to done a bikini and walk in heels on stage to be judged.

But I was judged not only in my figure.

No, I was judged on my physical fitness and lifestyle.

And beauty and fitness are in the eye of the beholder.

Did I ever win that portion, no.

Did that matter to me, no.

I never felt objectified nor did I need to be.

I was proud of my accomplishments, and that included how hard I worked on my physical fitness.

Being honored on the floor of the Texas Capitial

I lost 35 pounds the year I made it to the Miss Texas stage.

For me though, that year taught me so much more. I learned how my body worked. I learned how and when to eat and what to eat.

I learned it was not about calories, but about fueling my body with whole, nourishing foods.

I learned that cardio alone only makes you skinny fat and not strong!

I learned that healthy is all about the 80/20 (80% food 20% working out; 80% good eating and 20% treats).

Lifelong friends

But I also learned how strong I am.

I learned that I could be pushed harder than I ever imagined and still come out on the other side better than before. I learned confidence in the face of adversity.

I learned that beauty is only skin deep.

My time competing in the system taught me so much. I learned that some of the most intelligent, well-spoken women in the world were standing right next to me in a bikini and heels; being girly or wearing rhinestones did not mean I was anti-feminist (quite the opposite); supporting other women, even in competition, gained me friends for a lifetime.

Most of the women I competed with are now moms and lots of us have girls of our own.

We do not shy away from that time in our life.

We do not regret, but are proud of our accomplishments.

We are raising our daughters and sons to believe that women can do whatever it is they want in whatever fashion they want.

I am teaching E to be proud of herself, proud of her body, comfortable in her own skin and not afraid to seek whatever heights she sets her eyes upon.

All moms to girls now

So, say what you want and think what you want, but an icon will soon disappear—Miss America as we know it is dead.

Women, moms, wives, daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, I plead with you to teach young women that they can be feminine and still be strong, they can be compassionate and still be leaders in business; and they can be sexy and still be respected.

LMW