I learned to love my body by competing at Miss America.
I, like many other women (and people involved in pageantry generally), have mixed feelings about the swimsuit competition. There's something that feels very weird about being scored on stage while wearing a bikini and high heels. At the same time though, until I competed on stage in a swimsuit I was too self conscious to go swimming in public, and afterward I was comfortable in a bathing suit. (If you're interested in reading my pre-Miss America swimsuit post, click here.)
Though I had my reservations, the swimsuit competition ended up being one of the most empowering things I've ever done.
Because of it, I learned how to work out properly, how happy I felt after exercising, and I learned that absolutely no one's body is actually flawless.
Backstage at Miss America, it's hard not to compare yourself to other people. After all, you're standing in a group of 53 of the most attractive, accomplished, talented women in America and you're all pulling on black bikinis to go on stage in front of thousands of people.
When I looked around at the women I was standing near, they all looked gorgeous...and I noticed how completely different their body types were. Most of them didn't look like Victoria's Secret runway models...in fact, they looked fit, healthy and happy.
The swimsuit competition at Miss America proved to me that it really isn't about your dress size, but it IS about your self confidence. It's about a confidence that comes from knowing that you're healthy, you're fit because you worked hard, and you're proud of your body.
At Miss America, I definitely didn't have the smallest dress size, but I felt awesome on that stage.
I ended up standing between two women who were close to six feet tall - they were tanned, gorgeous, kind, and were naturally very thin (Oh, and did I mention they're also two of my friends?). In between them, I could have felt short, dumpy, and self conscious, but instead I felt awesome and happy about my fitness level.
You don't have to conform to specific measurements or expectations to be beautiful, but you DO need to be healthy. Confidence comes from inside of you - and trust me, you'll never find self confidence just by looking in a mirror.
Everyone's body is different. Everyone's body is beautiful... and self confidence is the key to letting that beauty shine.
Oh, and the two contestants I stood between?
|Jaclyn Raulerson, Miss Florida 2010|
|Kacie West, Miss Montana 2010|