Returning to My Pageant Roots

I judged the Miss Florida USA pageant this past weekend.  It was eye-opening to return to the pageant world.  I haven’t been a part of it for almost 25 years.

A few years after winning Miss USA 1982, I separated myself from the title due to feeling a lot of judgment about it when taking a job in the news industry.  People there didn’t want to take a beauty queen seriously.  That wall of separation grew even thicker as I stepped onto my healing journey.

I resisted anything that had to do with seeking love and approval from the outside world.  I needed to find it within myself.  And I did.  But what I’ve discovered over time is that I didn’t have to separate myself from my Miss USA title.  Gradually, I talked about it and owned it as a part of me.  No one can claim the title of Miss USA 1982 but me.  So when I was asked to come and judge Miss Florida USA this past weekend, I jumped at the opportunity.

What an awesome weekend I had!  I had so much fun!  The depth of the young women astounded me.  Many of them spoke the message of being true to your heart and following your dreams.  All of them were involved in philanthropies.  The consensus seemed to be that participating in the pageant is a wonderful opportunity for growth and healing.  I agree.

When I look back at winning my title, I see a young woman who also had dreams.  I’d felt a tug in my heart to move to Los Angeles while attending my freshman year in college in a small town in Arkansas.  I had no idea how to make that move happen, so I entered Miss Arkansas USA with the hope of getting a break.  What I didn’t realize at that time was that God was guiding me to step into my life purpose.  Miss USA was the ticket there.

Just like the contestants last weekend in the Miss Florida USA pageant, I have learned about myself and grown mentally, spiritually and emotionally by taking this path.  It all began in that moment of winning.  My ego was thrilled that I had won and said, “YES! I did it!”  My spirit, on the other hand, asked, “Is this it?”  I felt an emptiness that I couldn’t describe.  It took me years to understand why.  Winning Miss USA catapulted me on my journey to finally loving and accepting myself, no longer needing these things from everyone else.

What a gift and an adventure it’s been in finding the love within!  So when someone asks me now how I could be a pageant judge since it seems to go completely against my message of letting go of what the outside world thinks, I can honestly say that being in pageants gives young women wonderful opportunities to look inside themselves.  This is what life is about.  It’s filled with all kinds of paths to connect to your heart. Being a pageant contestant is simply one of many avenues in getting there.

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