Meeting Miss America 2014

Did you catch yesterday’s random thoughts? Click here to read the post featuring my few days of “unplugging” from social media, my most recent random mexican craving, and meeting Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri.

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Thursday morning began like any other typical morning and one I am sure most of you can relate to. I woke up, checked the blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, brushed my teeth, went to the bathroom, showered while listening to iTunes Radio, got dressed for the day, put on makeup, did my hair, looked in the mirror, had a quick breakfast and checked email, then resorted back to reading some blogs and the news while checking Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and looked fidgeted with how I looked in the mirror wondering if the dress I put on was the right choice. (Whew, that was a mouthful!) This sounds like a typical morning for most individuals doesn’t it?

From the moment we wake up we are allowing ourselves to be influenced by the media. Although we may not be cognizant of it, mixed in with photos and important updates are messages about how individuals should look. If you pay attention while scrolling through your Facebook feed or web pages on the internet, there are probably 5 ads you will encounter that recommend trying a diet pill, tell you how to lose 10 pounds in a few days, and even promise you that a recommended cerum will smooth all of your cellulite away. Women are constantly being told everywhere they look that they are not good enough. This highly affects young teenage girls and their perception of themselves in society. We all know it is there and that the media’s standard is unreasonable, but yet so many of us fall victim in its trap. Unfortunately, our world is not immune to the damage the media does to women and girls. I cannot help, but think to myself every morning how much I want to change the world and the perception girls have of themselves.

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[Courtesy of Google Images]

Thursday afternoon was unlike any other Thursday I have had before. I attended the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women’s Educate, Liberate Luncheon and the guest speaker was Miss America herself, Nina Davuluri.

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I have been following Miss America for the past couple of years now ever since Mallory Hagan won in 2013 because I felt she was an inspirational and admirable woman who was so down to Earth and had the strength to overcome all stereotypes society pinned her to. Nina, Miss America 2014, has certainly paved her own way in the Miss America legacy. Not only is she the first contestant of Indian descent to be named Miss America, but her Bollywood talent routine (one so many were telling her would not win) was moment she felt she could show herself to the world on stage. Nina gave an overview of how she discovered the Miss America stage and spoke about her platform: Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competence. Growing up she said she was always asked things like “Do you worship cows?” or “Are you going to have an arranged marriage?” or “What tribe are you from?” (clearly Native American)…and all of these questions were not out of disrespect, but simply ignorance. Nina has spoken to, I believe, 26 schools across the nation and is working to help individuals communicate and start a conversation about where they come from and what makes them unique. Through understanding one another we can all advance our cultural awareness as a nation.

Nina even spoke about breaking stereotypical barriers, “I am so thankful that children watching at home can relate to a new Miss America. They can look at me and see that they can be who they are and be successful despite their race or socioeconomic status.”

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At the end of her talk the guests were able to hand in discussion questions for Nina and I was so lucky to have three of mine chosen. Among the light hearted one of asking what the most stressful part of her job was, answered that it was simply packing and unpacking the two suitcases she has to live out of, I also asked her about the pressure the media puts on young girls and the result of mental illness creating a stigma in society. Here is what she had to say…

So many of my friends still ask me if I am going to compete for Miss America after winning the Distinguished Young Woman of New York in 2011 and I cannot help but think after this opportunity that I just might try.

My dream to change the world can surely come true by acting individually, but I think like Nina, having the platform of Miss America, your voice can be heard that much louder. I am so blessed to have met such an incredible woman yesterday. She is truly a role model and inspiration to me more than she will ever know.

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I have a big announcement coming up on Sunday about my senior thesis this Fall semester and how through my blog I want to change the way women see their bodies. So stop back real soon!

Never forget to wholeheartedly embrace the person you are! I know it is hard and we sometimes get caught up in what others say about us that we ourselves suddenly believe it to be true, but remember what makes you, you!


XOXO, Gabi

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