Still unsure how I feel about the changes to the Miss America Organization, I wanted to post about what competing in swimsuit means to me. Competing at Miss Teen Virginia United States was the first time I’ve ever walked onstage in a swimsuit and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind. I looked at myself in the mirror the night before and endlessly worried over how I would look side by side the other contestants. I stand at 5’4 and I have an athletic build. I’m not a size 0, or a size 2, or even a size 4. I have stretch marks on my thighs and butt, and I have scars from surgery and/or just being clumsy. I just continued to see what I perceived to be all my flaws.
And let me just say, it’s normal to feel insecure. We are all in a constant battle to truly love everything about ourselves and it’s normal to have bad days, where you might not like something about yourself and it’s normal to have great days where you feel completely confident.
But pageants and competing in swimsuit, especially empowers me! The day of my state competition, I still had nerves and doubts in the back of my mind, but as I started to walk onstage they all melted away. I was proving myself wrong with every step I took down the runway. I remember “Glamorous by Fergie” was playing and, in that moment, I didn’t care what anyone else thought of me because I felt free, amazing, and confident! And at nationals, I felt even more empowered. As contestants ran around backstage helping each other with wardrobe malfunctions and butt glue, I can honestly say no two girls looked alike. We were all different shapes and sizes. I realized the words “healthy” and “beautiful” are NOT and never will be defined by one size or shape.
We are all different. In this situation, another girl could feel completely different and that’s okay. But I hope people who may not support the swimsuit competition respect my experience (as well as others) and realize that I will never feel objectified while competing in swimsuit. I will continue to support and compete in pageants that include a swimsuit portion because to me it is so much more.