My thoughts on.... Miss America saying #ByeByeBikini
DISCLAIMER: This is not my "pageant answer" this is my honest opinion. I understand both sides of this argument but, do not feel it would be worth writing this post if I wasn't being authentic.
Well, it has been a little over 24 hours since the Miss America Organization announced the new "Miss America 2.0" where they broke the internet by stating that there would no longer be a swimsuit portion of the competition. I have gone round and round in my head with different opinions and after about a hundred texts asking what my feelings are, I decided to write you all about what my raw and possibly unpopular opinions are on this.
I first want to write from the perspective of a former contestant. The swimsuit competition was always hard for me. Having lost 100 pounds already, I didn't have that "naturally thin" body that would seemingly taunt me backstage. I remember several nights feeling hopeless and discouraged that no matter how hard I tried I was not able to get my formerly overweight body to a size zero. Despite those nights of self-doubt, I pushed myself to be the very best I could be. I remember thinking "someone might naturally be thinner than me but no one is going to outwork me". It instilled me a work ethic that I didn't even know I had and when I stood on that stage in my swimsuit I wasn't up there to set the woman's movement back but rather I was walking in my truth by telling my story and empowering others to fearlessly chase those goals that intimidate them. I was also able to witness so many young women around me learning about health and fitness for the first time and it set them on a path to better health and self-care down the road. As a former contestant, I know the swimsuit competition gave me much more than it ever took away from me. From learning more about my body to will power, and even lessons in being confidently you. I also can see where the job of Miss America has little to nothing to do with how good you look in a swimsuit and for that, I am torn.
Now looking at it from the progressive women's movement and as a victim of sexual assault, I get fired up in a whole different way. First of all, if a woman chooses to get up on stage and wear a swimsuit it still does not give anyone else the right to sexually assault or objectify them because of that decision. No one has the right to touch you without your consent no matter what you are wearing or directly equate your intelligence with your outward beauty. #MeToo originated as a cultural shift from it "being ok" to sexually objectify, use and abuse women specifically in the workplace. The year is 2018 and the modern woman should have the choice and feel the freedom to pursue her career aspirations, further her education, have a passion for fashion, choose her own sexual orientation and even (dare I say it) be sexy!
Beauty, intelligence, strength, social activism, and mentorship can coexist. Enjoying the "girlier" things in life does not mean that you do not support the women's movement. Being a feminist means you support women being whatever version of themselves they most identify with while shattering social suppressions and building each other up. Women can be feminine feminists and I for one am proud to be one.