By: Jazmin Avalos, Miss Anaheim Hills 2017
I still remember watching Toddlers and Tiaras when I was little. I would sit there, amazed by the “pageant moms” and the drama that unfolded on my television screen. It was a new world to me – the makeup, the dresses, the hair… all of it was so foreign.
I grew up in a family where academics were very heavily implemented. Trust me when I say that tiaras and stage lights were far out of my comfort zone. But my perception changed when my good friend encouraged me to join the Miss America program during my junior year of high school. Long story short, I competed for my first title in 2016 and was absolutely blown away by the growth that I had experienced. While competing I discovered that it was okay to celebrate every part of me. It was okay for me to enjoy calculus while still being interested in makeup. I could be knowledgeable about current events and politics yet still be feminine. I learned that I did not have to be defined by an activity or a title that limited me to one encompassing persona. Instead, I could celebrate the contrasting aspects that make me who I am!
That being said, it baffles me why we as individuals continuously put each other in boxes. We label one another as the jock, the nerd, the dancer… but why must we be confined to one identity? We are all multidimensional; we all have varying interests and hobbies – and that should be celebrated! So for all of you reading, I encourage you to think outside the box. I encourage you to refuse to wear a label, to refuse to believe that you must be tied down to “one thing”. It is never too late to “break the mold” of what others (or you, for that matter) think you can and cannot do. Take risks and try everything – you never know what might be around the corner!
by: Asha Bhattacharya Miss Anaheim 2017
By: Alyssa Vasquez, Napa County 2017
By: Cheyanne Police, Miss North Bay 2017
Tie up your running shoes, stretch your legs, drink some water, and… put on your favorite tutu.
On May 14, over 1,000 girls will hit the trail at Lake Merced in San Francisco to complete the Girls on the Run of the Bay Area 5K. After ten weeks of training, their hard work will pay off as they cross the finish line to the cheers of their family, friends, and coaches. For these girls, completing a 5K is just the beginning of a life with newfound confidence – ready to pursue their dreams, make healthy choices, and serve their communities. Girls on the Run embraces each girl for who she is and celebrates her individuality.
While most of you reading this aren’t seven to twelve years old, the lessons of Girls on the Run are applicable to people in all seasons of life. Growing up, I wasn’t the most athletic person and I would have rather filled a bowl with mint chocolate chip ice cream than broccoli. When I went to college, I realized that how I treated my body mattered. Being surrounded by unlimited buffets and ice cream sundae bars, I began to lose my energy. I felt sick, sluggish, and exhausted. When my friend suggested that we sign up for a half marathon, it was the motivation I needed to make a major life change. I began running… and honestly, it was hard. But we encouraged one another, and each run (no matter how slow) made me happier, healthier, and stronger. Crossing the finish line at the 2014 Nike Women’s Half Marathon was a major achievement for me, and it sparked a desire to help others experience the same sense of joy and empowerment. That is why Girls on the Run of the Bay Area is my platform, and why I am serving on the 5K committee this spring- so girls throughout the Bay Area will have the chance to cross the finish line and feel limitless.
Girls on the Run rocks because the program incorporates lessons on body positivity, healthy choices, goal-setting, and self-confidence with training. It celebrates the individuality and “sparkle” of each girl, recognizing her unique gifts and preparing her to share them with the world. Much like the Miss America program, it raises girls up to be the best versions of themselves.
Here are four practical life lessons that Girls on the Run can teach us at any age:
- Be True to You
A fundamental tenet of Girls on the Run is the belief that each girl shines when she is authentically and joyfully herself. We are all blessed with different gifts, passions, and talents. Sometimes it’s tempting to hide what makes us different because we are afraid that others might judge us, but it’s precisely through these differences that we can make the biggest impact. Find what you love and boldly chase after it – you’ll inspire others to do the same.
- Community over Competition
“Empowered women empower women.” This quote resonates with me in so many ways, and I see its truth in girls who participate in Girls on the Run. Comparison is the thief of joy, and the best way to succeed is to surround yourself with inspiring people and run alongside them, without competing. When my friend suggested we run a half marathon, she was encouraging me to rise up and do something I never thought possible. Girls prepare in teams for the 5K event, and even after they finish the race themselves they stay to cheer on their teammates. Nothing is more positive than community!
- Have Fun
Training is hard work. Girls on the Run makes it fun by providing positive reinforcement to encourage girls to push themselves while having a ball. Practices are full of laughter, and energy awards are given out each week to girls who exhibit a positive attitude. No matter what you’re pursuing, when you’re working hard it’s important to have fun. Find ways to make preparation a blast – take a page out of the Girls on the Run book: sparkly stickers, affirmations, and tutus make everything fun.
- Look Outward for Self-Confidence
The easiest way to lose confidence is to focus on yourself. That’s why Girls on the Run teams spend time giving back to the community each season. When we’re drained or self-conscious, the best way to remedy these feelings is to serve others. Being involved in volunteer or non-profit organizations provides a positive outlet to give back! Shameless plug- volunteer here for the Girls on the Run of the Bay Area Spring 5K event!
I hope that these lessons empower you to chase after your dreams with authenticity and joy! Whether it’s a college degree, half marathon, or title, be kind to yourself and celebrate each accomplishment no matter how small. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to try something new because you never know how much it may impact your life!
If you’re interested in volunteering this spring, please visit http://www.gotrbayarea.org to sign up and follow @gotrbayarea and @miss_bay_area on Instagram for more updates!
Thanks for reading,
Miss Bay Area 2017
By: Sarah Dahdouh, Miss Golden Gate 2017
By: Elyse Vincenzi, Miss San Francisco 2017
Competing in the Miss America Organization wasn’t something that I had seriously considered. I had toyed with the idea of registering since I became eligible age-wise, but it wasn’t until I saw Nina Davuluri, Crystal Lee (former Miss California), and Rebecca Yeh on the 2014 Miss America stage that I decided to compete. Three of the five contestants were of Asian descent, and that image inspired me to be a part of the Miss America Organization.
The first local system that I competed in was Miss Silicon Valley. I was still on winter break at the time, so I had to fly out to California a couple days earlier. (I’m originally from Georgia.) Preparation was so much fun, and I learned quite a lot from previous titleholders, who were very generous in giving tips. During the competition, I remember being so nervous on stage. I ended up winning first runner-up! And I had so much fun!
I didn’t know whether I would compete again this pageant season; however, I got a Facebook message from Allison (the local executive director for Miss Redwood City-San Mateo County), and she encouraged me to compete in the Miss Redwood City-San Mateo County competition. So I did! And I won! Now I am preparing for Miss California this summer, and I am so excited. Look out for me on the California stage!
By: Miss Redwood City/San Mateo County 2017, Elizabeth Trinh
By: Shannon Galipault, Miss Yorba Linda 2017
By: Cheyenne Kotick Miss Placentia 2017