"We are enough. Every single woman has a soul and a mind that is beautiful and mysterious and powerful because it belongs soley to her. It is our character, our beliefs, our oddities and quirks, pet peeves and passions that define us...not the measure of our waistlines."
Kirsten Haglund wrote that in her blog the year she was Miss America, and as pageant directors, more than anything, we wanted our titlholder to feel beautiful. We didn't want her to just think she was beautiful, or just think her directors thought she was beautiful. We wanted her to actually feel beautiful.
As a pageant director, there are few things as heartbreaking as knowing your titleholder has struggled with an eating disorder. It is the most heartbreaking, helpless feeling in the world to know the young woman you love, the woman who absolutely means the world to you, doesn't always see beauty when she looks in the mirror.
Earlier this month, Dr. Susan Albers wrote an open letter to Dominque Ramirez on Psychology Today. Dr. Albers wrote "In a 2003 study published in the journal of Eating and Weight Disorders, researchers reported that over one-fourth (26%) of the women in a beauty pageant had been told or perceived they had an eating disorder which reportedly began at 16.25 years. Amost half (48.5%) reported wanting to be thinner and 57% were trying to lose weight."
And if that isn't heartbreaking enough, Albers went on to say, "In another study of pageant winners from 1923-2002, researchers at Rutgers University found that only 23% of pageant winners had a 'normal' body mass index (BMI), 26% were so thin they met the World Health Organization's criteria for being undernourished and two would have been classified by the American Psychiatric Association as anorexic."
Dominique Ramirez is quoted in our post title this time. She said "Love the skin you're in. Strive for your dreams and never give up on anything becasue you never know what's going to happen."
We don't think we can ever put into words the love we feel for our titleholders. We love our titleholders like daughters, and our world begins and ends with the look in their eyes when they are happy.
This problem our beloved titleholders and contestants are facing is so heartbreaking. And we don't have a quick answer.
These women are so important to us. They are everything that matters.