When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a princess, as the majority of girls at that age do.
But I was a little bit more dedicated, if you will. I ALWAYS wanted to wear a dress and would get mad if my momma tried to dress me in jeans. I had a dress up chest full of princess costumes, tiaras, jewelry, shoes- you name it, odds are I had it or wanted it.
Needless to say, I've always been "girly". But that doesn't have anything to do with why I compete in pageants.
To this day, I still don't really know why I competed in my first pageant in high school. Perhaps it was a bout of insanity. I was 17-years-old and most girls who compete in pageants start when they're much younger.
But as I told my co-worker the other day when he asked me in our interview why I compete in pageants, I like a challenge.
If you had seen me ten years ago, you never would have thought that I would compete in pageants, or even place (which I did, by the way, second runner-up for Miss Mill Creek and Miss Congeniality). I had retained my "girly" ways, but I was out of shape, unkept and didn't know what the heck I was doing with makeup.
For the majority of my life, I've had to prove my abilities to people around me. Sure, I've had people in my life that have supported me no matter what, but I've also had plenty of people make fun of me, doubt me and tell me "you can't do it".
So to make a point, I competed in my first pageant because I like to challenge myself and to prove the haters wrong.
But after that first one, I was hooked. I've always been a performer and enjoyed being in front of an audience, but there was also something that I loved about the support that came from the other contestants and the feeling of having my name called for an award.
That was when I learned that competing in pageants help more than they harm.
For years, pageants have gotten a bad rap for only promoting physical beauty. I won't try to make an argument that they didn't back in the day, but society has changed, and the Miss America Organization has evolved with it. Today the "beauty queen" stereotype is no more. We are candidates, applying for the full-time job of Miss Georgia and eventually Miss America.
When I first started competing in the Miss America Organization, I had no idea what I was doing. Perhaps that's why it took me so long to place. But I loved how the organization emphasized brains over beauty and gave us the opportunity to promote a personal platform.
If you're not familiar with the Miss America Organization and how it works, candidates compete for a state local title, then advance the state pageant. If we win the state title, then we have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete for Miss America.
The entire time I have competed in pageants, I've wanted to have the chance to compete on the Miss Georgia stage. I am a firm believer that we should take every opportunity that comes our way, so when I was given the opportunity to compete in the 2021 Miss Georgia Scholarship Competition, I seized it without hesitation. Now I represent the title of Miss Greater Atlanta.
Preparing for Miss Georgia is one of the hardest things I have done in my entire life. But time management is the key. There are four areas of competition: private interview, talent, on-stage interview and social impact pitch and red carpet (traditionally referred to as evening gown).
Each day, I am doing something to prepare for the competition. Whether it's practicing my talent, working on paperwork, exercising or promoting my social impact initiative, there is never a day where I don't work on SOMETHING.
Another tough question Austin asked me this week was why I would want to win Miss Georgia. And it's not tough to answer because I don't know why, it's hard to answer because there isn't enough time or document space to convey how badly I want to represent the Miss Georgia Scholarship Organization, my social impact initiative and the people who have helped me get to where I am today.
First, the Miss Georgia Scholarship Organization has played a BIG role in my life up until this point. I believe that nothing happens for no reason, so I believe that each local competition I didn't win was a chance for me to keep improving and to learn more about the organization. With that said, it is a phenomenal organization, with fantastic volunteers (shout-out to Ms. Kay Cagle, my field director and Ms. Michelle McClure, my local director) to help young ladies become the best version of themselves. The organization and local competitions are largely to credit for my confidence in interviews and life in general.
Second, my social impact initiative (previously known as platform). Mine is called "From Shelter to Forever" and focuses on finding permanent, loving homes for rescue animals. Just over a year ago, I adopted a Blue Heeler puppy named Josie from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. While I loved dogs up until that point, in fact I already had one of my own, adopting Josie opened my eyes to the plight of shelter animals and the hard work that volunteers put into finding them a forever home.
Finally, I want to make the people who have helped make my journey possible proud. I'll go more into detail in a later post, but there are SO many people who I am forever indebted to and grateful for having on this journey. Just to name a few: the Jacobs Family and Jacobs Media for sponsoring my ad page, Pam and Jessica Acord and my momma. I swear the song "Wind Beneath my Wings" was written about my momma, Judith Hunter.
It's been an incredible journey so far to the Miss Georgia stage and I'm excited to share that journey with all of you through this blog post. It is scheduled to run every Friday afternoon until the week of Miss Georgia, which will kickoff on June 14.
**Photo credit in the header photo to Matt Boyd Photography.