Miss Northern California- Beyond Beauty for Girls

10430884_1024805167547916_6273712213128090267_nHello again! For those of you haven’t seen my previous guest blogs, my name is Molly Crawford and I am Miss Northern California Regional 2015. I am so grateful to have the opportunity, yet again, to share with the Miss California social media community! Click the links below to take a look at my other posts and get to know me a little better.

One of the greatest parts of competing in the Miss America Organization is the element of service that is constantly fulfilled with the journey each contestant takes in advocacy for a service platform, that is usually near and dear to her heart. The nation wide platform for our program is the Children’s Miracle Network (have you 11070796_10206524385889364_6409944474216505151_n-1ordered your Miracle Band yet?!), which all of the titleholders and contestants raise money for in their efforts on the #Road2MissA. I spent a morning at Children’s Hospital Oakland, in honor of the inaugural Miss America Serves Day, where I had the opportunity to see these fundraising efforts in action. Watching the fundraising efforts of the Miss America Organization come to fruition, encompassing all important aspects of the “make a difference” concept that the platform element encourages, and spending time with the patients and my Miss California sisters, are all valuable and humbling experiences, that helped inspire me to make my own change.
In the summer before I started high school, I struggled with body image issues, which lead to an eating disorder that I hid from everyone. As a 14 year old, I did not know how to rise above the opinions of others and took matters into my own hands, landing me in the emergency room, with a tube in my arm, that re-nourished the huge nutritional deficit I inflicted upon myself. My dance career was put on hold and at risk. I spent the first semester of my freshman year in independent study to fully recover and regain physical and mental strength. I felt hopeless, lost, ugly and like no one could understand this constant battle of looking in the mirror every day, and being repulsed by what I saw. The loneliness, frustration, and sadness took a toll that occasionally still haunts me today. This experience also helped inspire me to make my own change.
298219_10200930813013538_1738026875_n“Beyond Beauty for Girls” was founded by Miss Maryland 2010, Lindsay Staniszewski, and has set out on a mission to end negative self fat talk, and to crush the stereotype media today has placed on what it means to be beautiful. Since 2013, I’ve had the opportunity to be a California Ambassador with this organization, using the titles I’ve had with the MAO as a vehicle to make these concerns heard. The way young women see themselves, especially in stages of development like middle and high school, is so incredibly important. Being an advocate for self love and acceptance has challenged me to develop my own insecurities into something positive and raw. Taking the opportunities to speak about self esteem issues with the Girl Scouts, special needs and education programs, and within my own community and home, has helped me be the change I want to see in the world. The Miss America Organization gave me the courage to speak up, be heard, and make a difference, if not on a grand scale of the masses, definitely for the 14 year old me who looked in the mirror and had no hope to feel beautiful, strong, or comfortable in her own skin.
Join me in the #BeyondBeauty movement! Tag us in your most beautiful moments on social media! Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @MissNorCalRegional
Molly Crawford
Miss Northern California Regional

Jennifer Smith- The Princess Program Experience

me-preciousprincessIt all started back in 2009, when a close friend of the family introduced me to the Miss Santa Clara Princess Program.  A lot of 9 year olds dream of becoming a princess one day, and I happened to be one of those girls. So for me, the thought of the experience was close to a dream come true; however, what I didn’t know was the impact this entire organization would begin to make on me as I continued being a princess year after year.

me-paulaIn a mock interview one time, I was asked, “As a former princess in this program, do you feel the princess program is still relevant?” Just as I believe pageants are still relevant, I also believe that the princess program is definitely still relevant as well. Over my five years as a princess, I participated in the Miss Santa Clara / Miss Silicon Valley, Miss San Jose, Miss San Francisco, and Miss California princess programs. Each and every one of those princess programs taught me life skills such as manners, poise, confidence, and gave me the experience of having a princess-contestant bond with many contestants and local titleholders throughout the organization. And I feel that this has helped shaped me to be the person and the titleholder I am today.

One thing that I was taught by participating in the princess program is manners. In my own opinion, I feel like this is one of the most important attributes that a lot of teenagers of my generation seem to be lacking. My parent previously taught me the importance of manners. Since I was still at a young age, most of the manners touched on saying thank you every time you were given something, you’re not allowed to chew with your mouth open, and always address adults as Miss/Ms./Mrs./Mr. But participating in the princess program has helped me expand my manners. One of my personal favorites is when we would have a tea party in the Miss Santa Clara princess program and we had the table placements showing us exactly where each item / utensil went on the table. I think that having manners taught to us throughout our princess programs helped me become more poised as I got older.

alissa-iAnother thing that the princess program has taught me is that you don’t need a celebrity to look up to as your inspiration, and that you can just simply look onstage and see all these phenomenal woman are the better people to look up and aspire to be like. That’s exactly what I did. Not only that, but since I knew most of the titleholders on a more personal level it created a lot of bonds that I still have with most of them today. You may not get the level of closeness contestants have with each other, but they’ll always still be there to support you and cheer you on just as you do for them. One example of this is with one of my former Miss California’s Outstanding Teen contestants, Alissa Anderegg. She was my contestant back at the 2011 competition. I remember meeting her for the first time, and how excited I was for her when she won Miss Golden Gate’s Outstanding Teen, then later became my contestant at Miss California. During the week of Miss California 2011, she showed me SO much love and support throughout the entire week and is still one of the people I look up as she serves molly-iher title of Miss Johnston County (North Carolina) 2015. Another amazing I had was Miss Santa Clara’s Outstanding Teen 2011, Molly Crawford. She was the first contestant I had that had won, and I’ve looked up to her since the tea party I met her at. Along my journey as a contestant, she has been consistently positive and supportive. And now, I am so incredibly blessed to call Molly my miss.

The last thing that being a princess has taught me is that you should always have the confidence to believe yourself. Whether it would be going onstage getting crowned, dancing in front of hundreds of people, walking out to greet your contestant before evening gown, you learn to just become comfortable in your own skin and to be yourself. As a young girl, I was so incredibly shy, to the point I wouldn’t ever want to leave my parents' side. me-sassyThanks to competing in pageants and participating in the princess program, I'm a goofy chatterbox today. When I was competing for the titles of Miss Northern California Regional’s Outstanding Teen and Miss Gavilan Hills' Outstanding Teen  2015, I walked across that stage with a confidence that I had never had before. I felt truly comfortable being in my own skin and just being completely myself, and a lot of that I have to owe to this program- both competition wise and princess program wise.

Jennifer Smith
Miss Northern California Regional's Outstanding Teen