I've been a titleholder more than once, and over the years, I often find myself replaying my old farewell slideshows. As sappy as it sounds, they usually bring a tear to my eye. I love every title I've held, and each one represents a new transformation of the woman I have become. They show me where I started and where I ended up, but above all else, they remind me why I stay.
This week has been quite a rocky road in the Miss America world, and with all the adverse media surrounding the situation, the negative stereotypes of pageantry have only been solidified. This has made me reflect deeply on my answer to popularly posed question, "Why do you compete in pageants?"
As I watch those slideshows, the answer couldn't be more clear. This organization isn't made up of one singular CEO nor is it made up of one singular board. The Miss America Organization is built upon generations of women who, at one point, each wanted to change the world. After the title ends, after the crown has been passed, and after the roses have wilted, that woman is not gone.
That's what MAO is built on - all of those incredible women and their legacies - and that's why I stay. Because, though I've met only a fraction of those women (titleholders, directors, mentors, volunteers, and everyone in between) I've been touch by each of them. They have paved the way for me to speak my mind, represent my community, and become the confident individual I am today.
I stay because the Miss America Organization is so much more than nasty emails and scandal. I stay for the chance to speak up and testify for the sisterhood of incredible women who truly make up this organization. I can only imagine the caliber of questions the Miss America Organization will face this year, but I look forward to the opportunity to be a voice among the many working to bring back the positive light this organization truly deserves.