Life as a Pageant Queen

Photo at Queen of the World Pageant March 2022

If someone said to me a few years ago that I would win a pageant title, then move to another state, get appointed a state title and compete in an international pageant, I would have thought….WHAT?

Winning, let alone competing in a beauty pageant at age 51, was something not on my radar a few years back. Let’s unwind time a bit to see where I was…

When I turned 49, it was 2019 and I had big plans for turning 50 the next year. My husband and I talked about a big trip to Vegas, my best friend was planning on coming, and we were going to see Lady Gaga and paint the town red!

2020 came…and well, you know the rest. Not only did we get locked down in California, but my husband got deployed and he was away for several months. No big birthday, obviously.

Then in early 2021 I saw a post on Instagram for a local pageant. This pageant, Solano County Pageants, had an age division for women 50 and over. I was so surprised, because I didn’t think there were any pageants for women my age, let alone for anyone married. Feeling like a sloth after a year of wearing nothing but leggings and loose tops, I missed dressing up and I knew I had put on weight. I don’t mind being curvy, but I DO mind feeling sloppy and without energy.

A part of me thought I was crazy to sign up because – I do NOT look like the typical pageant girl.

  1. I have short, purple hair.
  2. I am not a size 2.

However, as a body positivity advocate, I knew I had something to say, and if I didn’t win the title, I could share my story and represent for the big girls!

For 3 months I trained. I joined a gym and not only lost some weight but I just felt better, overall. I learned how to walk for the fitness competition (no swimsuit), evening gown, created an introductory speech, and brushed up on my interview skills. I teach speech communications, so I felt very comfortable speaking with the judges.

And what do you know….I won!

Mrs. Vacaville Classic Woman, 2021

But then…life threw me a curveball.

Just a couple of months into my new reign, my husband received orders for us to move to Mississippi! I was crushed. Despite this, I did as many appearances as I could before we left California, and even helped to organize a Body Positivity Fashion Show with the local Macy’s. Being able to model and speak about the importance of loving our bodies at any size was definitely a highlight for me.

Queens from Solano County Pageants at Macy’s Fairfield, August 2021.

A new opportunity

After moving to Mississippi, I realized that I wanted to continue serving as a queen, but my local title wouldn’t likely translate well in my new area. I started to search for local pageants, state pageants, and then I came across the Queen of the World Pageant.

“Beauty Redefined” is this pageant’s motto, and that really spoke to me. I decided to take a chance and apply.

After a Zoom interview with the pageant’s CEO and founder Alice Lee Giannetta, I was offered the title of Elite Mrs. Mississippi! I would be competing in the Elite division (50 and over) at the international pageant in March 2022. However, it was late November when I was awarded the title and I did not have a ton of time to prepare. So, it was time to step up my game!

What is it like to prepare for a national/international pageant? Check out my next post to find out!

Please Stop Hating Yourself!

Hello Lovelies,

Tonight I chatted with some friends in my Facebook Messenger, and the topic of our bodies came up. Some of the conversation went like this:

“I think I look gross. I did a boudoir for last year. And Had to wear something that covered my stomach and still hated how I looked in all of them. The photographer was amazing but ya…”

“I don’t have the balls to do a shoot-

I barely have sex with the lights on.”
“I’m just not comfortable with my body.”
These are mostly 20 and 30 something women who are absolutely gorgeous. Being good friends, we were telling one another how crazy we were to talk this way about ourselves (which was true! These ladies are HOT!).
But I remember that loathing. The feeling of not being good enough; judging myself in dressing room mirrors, cringing at the slightest extra few pounds on my stomach. Endless dieting. As a performer, I felt that extra pressure to achieve that coveted size 2-4 (and I did – but developed an eating disorder in the process).
I’m no longer living off the coffee and protein bars to stay small (thank God), and I’ve stopped the size obsession. It’s exhausting. Could I stand to lose some weight? Of course. I’m working on dropping some pounds, but I really just want to be healthy.
How did I stop the loathing? This quote from RuPaul did it:
“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love someone else?”
(can I get an “Amen” in here?)
rupaul
It’s true. Mama Ru knows a little something about acceptance! I finally had to learn to accept who I was, right then – not the “someday” version of Melanie I fantasized about. I deserve to be happy.
As women, we are fantastically hard on ourselves. We’re not tall enough, thin enough, curvy enough, busty enough, young enough, bootylicious enough. If it’s not our bodies we’re hating, it’s feeling like we don’t measure up as mothers, wives, or deserving of success.
PLEASE STOP.
Generally, men don’t do this to themselves. They work on their “trouble” areas, but the self loathing is not nearly as much as what women do to their self-esteem.
So, what do we do about it? Focus on things which we love about ourselves. Start by playing up those legs if you love those. Enhance your beautiful skin. Show off your shoulders. Let your hair hang down.  Give back to others. Surround yourself with those with good energy. Realize that all those models are airbrushed and photoshopped!
zendaya
If there’s one advantage to being a forty something, it’s that knowing that I am comfortable and fine the way I am. It took me a long time to get here, and I want to face the second half of my life feeling good.
Let’s give ourselves a break and enjoy life!!
Until next time –
Love, laughter, and shoes –
xo Melanie
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Coming Out Day: Owning Who You Are

Hello lovelies,

For many of my friends, Coming Out Day is a time to celebrate their authentic selves. To not hide who they truly are.  Being proud to say they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.  I am proud to be a supporter of their celebration!

For me, Coming Out Day is so much more than this. Many of us are “closeted” in some way.  Afraid of not fitting in, fearful of ridicule and criticism. For a plus size woman as myself, the one thing I’ve kept closeted is my weight.

Not today. I am owning that as of this week, I am 217 pounds.

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I am overweight. I accept this fact. I am aware that it’s not good for me to carry this excess weight on my frame. However, I am not going to be ashamed of myself.

My hubby loves me for me. I am very blessed.

My hubby loves me for me. I am very blessed.

I’m not defined by my weight. It has taken me years to get to this mindset, as I used to think I was fat, unattractive, and unworthy at 135 pounds. I thought, when I am 115, then I will be happy.

WEIGHT DOES NOT CREATE HAPPINESS! When I was in my size 2/4 days, on the outside I seemed happy. In reality, those were some of the most anxious, self doubting days of my life. I believed that if I gained weight, people would stop taking me seriously.

I lived off of protein bars and coffee to stay this thin. Always afraid of the scale.

I lived off of protein bars and coffee to stay this thin. Always afraid of the scale.

The thing is, now, I know I need to shed some weight to avoid becoming diabetic, taking pressure off my lower back, and decrease my risk of a heart attack. I am proud to say I am taking steps in the right direction to address these factors.

Hubby is really getting good at pics!

Hubby is really getting good at pics!

Weight goes up and down. My attitude and love for who I am should not be attached to what the scale says.

Own who you are. There’s only one YOU, so celebrate! 

Love, laughter, and shoes-

xo, Melanie.

 

 

Throwback Thursday Throws Me a Curve

Ah, #ThrowbackThursday. You clever bastard. I search for fun pics to post, and I am stopped cold by finding pics of me from 10 years ago, looking, well, FABULOUS. Funny enough, during this point in my life, I thought I needed to take 10-15 lbs off.

Circa 2004.

Circa 2004.

But here it is 2014, and though I feel I’ve come to a healthier state of mind in terms of body acceptance and pushing to expand the idea of what we consider to be “beautiful,” I cannot escape the fact that I am too heavy now.

Yesterday during a doctor’s checkup, I stepped on the scale (always my favorite part) and noticed that 5 lbs crept on over the last month! How could this be?

Was it the Girl Scout cookies I inhaled over the past week? The popcorn at the movies? The Chex Muddy Buddies we devoured while watching March Madness? All of it? Probably.

I’m not going to beat myself up over the gain, I won’t go there. However, I need to put the brakes on the treats. There’s no denying that getting heavier isn’t going to help my back get stronger,  make the joints feel better, or lower my chances or developing diabetes or heart problems. It’s more than a vanity thing for me.

So, I’m going to do this a step at a time. Add more veggies, watch the sugar, drink more water. Walk as much as I can handle while doing physical therapy. And of course, rock some fashion while doing it all!

I don’t expect to become a supermodel. I just want to feel good and if that means having to lose some of my caboose, that’s ok!

Mesh top 1Mesh top 2

Blue nails

"London calling" socks!

“London calling” socks!

Feeling “blue from my top to my toes.”

 

It’s a struggle sometimes to “age gracefully.” Most of the time, I’m feeling good, working it for all I’ve got, but then there’s that pesky white hair in my eyebrow -the deepening line around the mouth- the softening jaw, that can throw me into a funk.

I think that’s normal, though -to fight through the feeling of “aging.” We want to feel healthy and look good. It’s just navigating the delicate balancing act of accepting what looks graceful versus becoming a plastic freak show. I don’t want to be a slave to my weight or my age.

So here’s for trying to eat better, exercise a little more, and living in the moment. Cheers!

Look for my next post to come from PARIS! Au revoir until next time!

Love, laughter, and shoes –

xx Melanie.

WHAT I WORE:

Mesh top and maxi skirt – PASSPORTS

London socks- FOREVER 21

Blue leopard sneakers – FOREVER 21

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