For those of you who don’t know, this past weekend I competed in my first pageant, Miss Illinois USA 2016. I didn’t end up walking away with a crown, but I did end up walking away with a unique experience I am excited to share with you all women—and men.
Before I begin, I want to disclose some information: I have never been in a pageant before. Six months ago, I never would have thought I would be a “pageant girl” at any point in my life. At the beginning of summer, a former judge for the pageant came into my work and told me that I should compete because she thought I would do very well. I was nervous when I first considered doing it; I had heard rumors about “pageant girls” being malicious and mean.
My experience was not like that at all.
I have never met so many amazing, talented, quirky, energetic, positive, intelligent, kind-hearted women in my life. The girls I had the opportunity to compete with were incredible and sweet. I was constantly surprised in the best way possible throughout the weekend at how helpful everyone was. Girls shared their snacks with each other; helped the other contestants learn to put on false eyelashes; curled other girls’ hair for them; did each other’s makeup; lent clothes to another girl within minutes of meeting them; and so many other acts of kindness.
These women weren’t like the ones I heard about in those rumors. These women were helpful and empowering. These women were individuals that I am proud to call my “pageant sisters.”
One of the things I liked most about my pageant sisters was our common philosophy: empower other women.
Empowering other women is something that I have noticed is diminishing in society, which is sad to think about. Just take Instagram for example. Go to a gorgeous woman’s page and read through the comments. You probably see a lot of negative feedback, right? There’s no reason for that to be happening.
Let’s just be completely honest here. Criticizing another person’s outfit won’t make yours any better. Calling someone “ugly” won’t make you prettier. Telling someone that they’re too fat/skinny won’t make you have the perfect body. Not “liking” someone else’s status/picture/post won’t make you get more likes.
So why are girls doing it?
My guess: Jealousy.
But there isn’t any reason for a person to be jealous of another. For each thing you’d like to change about yourself, I’m sure there are five other things someone loves about you. The key to being confident is to seeing your flaws as incredible little details about yourself…and owning them!
For example, I have very full lips. When I was younger, I always would try to minimize them; I would wear light colors (and even concealer) on my lips to try to make “disappear.” I always thought that big eyes were so much more beautiful, but I didn’t have them. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I really started to embrace them. I started wearing bolder lip colors—I used to wear red almost every day for a little bit—and found that I was feeling more empowered. Immediately, I had other people telling me things like, “I wish I had your lips. I’ve always wanted to wear a lipstick like that one,” and I was so surprised. A little while after that, the whole Kylie Jenner Lip Trend took place and I had even more people commenting on my naturally full lips. Now, I love my lips and feel 110% confident about them.
When you become confident, it makes it so much easier to encourage and appreciate others and make them feel great too (which will, ironically, make you feel even better about yourself).
The bottom line is that negative, malicious comments won’t make you a better person. I would argue to say that they actually make you a terrible person. Now, on other hand, saying kind things about someone, complimenting their unique qualities, and making them feel great is something that can make you a better person. Other people will see that in you. You will see that in you over time…and it will feel incredible.
I’m not saying that you have to love everyone in the world; that isn’t realistic. I’m just saying that women that empower women are the best kinds of women out there. Jealously shows weakness and empowerment shows strength. Strength is such an attractive quality for both men and women.
I know not everyone has the same experiences in life, but I really do hope that this post has inspired you to be kind and supportive of the other women in your life. You only have one life to live and living a full, happy, humble, and enriched life sure seems like a perfect one to live.
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