A little over a week ago, I competed for the title of Mrs. America in Las Vegas, Nevada. First, let me say, the experience was amazing, and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to even participate. I didn’t bring home to crown, but there were definitely lessons learned and blessings received. A few years ago, when I participated and lost in another pageant system, I wrote a blog post entitled, “Lose to Win” and figured I would title this one the same because with every loss there is a win.
When I won the title of Mrs. Delaware back in May, I knew the next step would be Vegas to compete for Mrs. America, but to be honest with you, just being crowned Mrs. Delaware was a good enough blessing for me. But as the time passed, I started to have the desire to really want to do well and represent the state well. I thought I want to at least make it to the finals in the Top 15. I thought, “God, a girl like me has never gotten the title of Mrs. America.” (What I mean by a girl like me was chocolate skin, natural hair, Afrocentric). I thought, how awesome would it be for the organization to see this as beautiful and showcase it. Delaware (as a state pageant) has already made awesome strides in showcasing diversity by crowning several minority winners which is so awesome. Now, I thought, Mrs. America needs to showcase this as well, given that the organization is 40+ years old; there have only been 2 African American winners and that has been in recent years. I know there have been other WOC who were titleholders, but very few. (For those who follow this system that will say there has been minority winners in the sister systems, I will get into that later). Anyways, my mind shifted, and I asked God to help me become a trailblazer, help me open doors for other women like me. I wanted to make a difference. I made sure I prepared physically by working out daily with the hubs, mentally by taking the SECURE THE CROWN course by Ocielia Sprowl of Slay Your Pageant on IG, getting all the pageant advise, and coaching/training I needed, and spiritually by staying prayed up and connected with Him. I wanted to make sure I presented well!! Now granted, I wasn’t sure if I could handle all the responsibility that would have come about with the title of Mrs. America, but I trusted that God would do His thing.
Upon getting to Vegas, I was definitely the odd ball. It was obvious, I didn’t fit the mold and quite frankly, I’ve never fit the mold so that didn’t bother me. There were a few of us chocolate girls, 2 of us had short hair, 2 of us, for sure, were natural, but I was the only one with obvious kinks, lol! I have a history of sticking out like a sore thumb, so this was nothing new to me. However, I felt awkward because I am the epitome of an introvert, so it was a lot of energy to not come off as aloof and to show that I am indeed friendly, just socially different. Still, the enemy started to play with my mind, and the thoughts of not being good enough started rearing its ugly head. I thought, oh girl, you are going to have to show perfection (my biggest battle…go figure). You cannot afford to be mediocre on that stage and in the interview.
Things were happening that were making me feel a bit less than. Now looking back, I wonder if God was preparing me for what eventually was going to be the outcome…not making the semi-final’s list or taking home the crown. Getting my makeup done daily was new to me, so I was a little out of my comfort zone being glammed up every day. (Crazy, right? Considering I am a pageant queen. I know…I’m just different). I didn’t feel like I was as confident in my makeup as I should have been. It was nothing to do with the artists, but because I don’t get makeup done often, I wasn’t sure what looked good on me or not. I left it to the professionals to do their thing, but I was definitely out of my comfort zone. The enemy kept telling me girl that’s not you. That is too much…you know, just messing with my head.
Another thing that kept happening is, I kept getting this feeling that I needed to keep practicing walking in my dress. Mind you, I have never had an issue with my dresses in previous pageants, but something kept saying practice walking in your dress, and I did…each time, there would be little snags here and there, but I would get it together, and it would work out. On stage, was another story, my dress train kept getting caught in my heel, and I actually thought I was going to trip. To this day, I am not sure why this was happening and why it decided to act crazy on stage. I am thinking a sign from God saying, this ain’t gonna be for you, boo boo!
Backstage, I was experiencing weird anxiety. Several times, I felt like I was going to pass out, especially as they called the top 15. I had gotten extremely hot and felt dehydrated. I drank water and kept it moving, but again…looking back, I think they were signs that I was going to experience some disappointment.
The disappointment didn’t come from “losing” per se. It came from trusting God for something I, first, thought was impossible. I thought that because He placed the strong desire in my heart to display a “different type of beauty” that He had paved a way for me to do well. Doing well to me equated to at least making Top 15. I had been practicing courageous faith on so many things over the past year or so, and reminding myself not to put limits on God, so this was just me, continuing with that same strategy. I knew this was something I knew I had to pull deep down to let go of limits because my first mindset was this is going to be impossible. I really was trusting Him to give me the desires of my heart. I thought this was another thing He was going to blow my mind with… but He was like, nah, boo! This ain’t the one, but you did good though! LOL!
I say all this to say that you can feel prepared and as though God has a plan for you in whatever it is you are pursuing and still LOSE!!! It happens. You can prepare and perfect until you cannot perfect anymore, and things will still not go according to YOUR plan, and I have learned that you have to be ok with that. What is for you will find its way to you. In pageantry, systems have their idea of who they want to represent them, and you (speaking to myself as well) may not fit that ideal, and that is ok. He (God) didn’t choose me to be the trailblazer, the first African American pageant queen with natural, kinky hair and chocolate skin to be a Mrs. America legacy, but He did choose me to represent the state of Delaware as a queen who is comfortable in her skin and inspiring other women to feel comfortable in theirs. He still chooses me to be a beacon of light, and I say YES to this challenge every chance I get.
Prayerfully, it will be soon enough that someone will be the chosen one to display this side of beauty as Mrs. America, and I pray that they will display it well. Yes, there are the sister systems, Mrs. American and Miss for America Strong systems, that have had African American women titleholders over the past 3 or 4 years, and I commend the organization for this, but I do think it needs to be displayed across the board as Mrs. America is the older system and the percentage of minority winners is extremely small, non-existent for naturalistas.
Despite coming back with none of my prayers answered (I kid, I kid, lol), the experience was one I hold near and dear to my heart. I met some beautiful souls. The women were/are amazing, and that is always the blessing in pageantry. The ladies that you meet. The connections are priceless. It is a sisterhood that is unexplainable.
I cannot express how grateful I am and how wonderful it feels to be on this journey. It was probably the only time I have had since being a wife and mother that all I had to was worry about was myself and that was the best feeling EVER, lol!! No, but for real, whenever I look back on my time in Vegas, I will always smile with feelings of joy and gratitude. From spending time with my sister queens, chilling in my director’s room, getting my makeup done, attending different events and practices…I will cherish forever!! I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I grew up watching pageants on TV in awe of the beautiful women I saw. Never in a million years, did I think I would be on the Mrs. America national stage. At the end of the day, the truth remains that GOD IS GOOD!!! Be blessed, y’all!!!