There’s been debate about the relevancy of the Lifestyle and Fitness/Swimsuit portion of competition within the Miss America Organization; especially for people who aren’t involved with the organization directly. I get it. What good can come of women “parading” across a stage, in full hair and make-up, and striking poses in a swimsuit? I am here to tell you why I believe Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimwear is an important phase of competition and provide you with some helpful tips while preparing for your next pageant.
To most people, getting up on a stage in a swimsuit and strutting your stuff is a rather daunting thing to accomplish. I’ll admit, initially I had doubts myself. But I’ve always held my personal health and wellness to certain standard, mostly because I’ve been active since I was a young girl. At the age of five I began taking dance classes at Dance with Pam in Wisconsin Rapids and kicked my way around the local recreational soccer league (I later played competitive soccer for a few years). Throughout middle school I played basketball and ran track (while continuing to dance and play soccer). Then in high school I made the high school dance team and continued dancing at my studio.
As a result, it’s no surprise that my personal platform within the Miss America Organization, which started off with a volunteer focus, shifted to physical activity; now it’s centered on a larger view of health and wellness.
(Here’s one of the only pictures I can find from my very first Miss America Organization pageant, Miss Wisconsin Rapids Area 2010 my senior year of high school. Thankful I learned how to brush out my curls/do my hair and switched up that swimsuit style…yikes!)
It’s important to realize that it’s not completely about the glamorized portrayal of women in a swimsuit and how physically fit they are. Second thought, it’s really not at all. The Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit portion of the Miss America Organization competition is in my opinion, an extension of the interview phase in the sense that it demonstrates the well-rounded nature of a contestant. Leading an active and healthy lifestyle entails being in shape for the contestant’s particular body frame (it’s individualized) in addition to their diet (note that “diet” doesn’t mean they are cutting down and watching what thy eat but rather their regular consumption of food). But it’s also a direct representation of the personal standards the contestant holds herself to and the value she possesses for her body, current lifestyle, and future.
I’ll admit, when I initially began competing I felt a little awkward walking across a stage in my swimsuit with a packed audience watching me, not to mention a panel of people judging me. As the years have gone on, I’ve gained more experience competing and reached a new level of comfort with myself and my body. I believe as a young woman grows older (especially during her college years) the taste of independence and determination to grasp what she wants to do with her life drastically shapes how she perceives herself; after all, it did for me. It helped me to embrace my natural red hair and to love the skin I was in. This crucial turning point in my life also solidified the fact that if I wanted to achieve or improve something, I have the power to do so (this includes having the power to maintain and regulate my health and wellness).
After winning swimsuit preliminary at Miss Wisconsin 2014, I was absolutely elated and shocked to say the least. During a post-show interview with the Miss Wisconsin Program’s emcee for that year I was asked what I did to prepare. My response was as follows, “One thing I stress to girls is, I eat what I want in moderation as long as I cover my bases. My platform is about living a healthy lifestyle and staying active.” Another aspect that I touched on during the post-preliminary interview was finding a physical activity that you enjoy. This past year (at Miss Wisconsin 2015) I did not win swimsuit preliminary and that’s okay. Why? Because as a titleholder and contestant within the MAO you need to understand that the judging panel is comprised of five different people, just five people deriving an opinion from your performance and making a decision. In the ultimate scheme of life, that’s a very minuscule part of a much larger picture.
I can honestly say I felt incredible during my swimsuit walk at Miss Wisconsin 2015. When I competed in my very first MAO pageant my senior year of high school I wore a yellow swimsuit and adored it. Since that point in time I constantly had people telling me different colors I should wear that complimented my hair and skin tone well like emerald green, blue, and purple; and I did just that. As you can see from the evolution of images on this post, I wore green and purple suits and there’s a couple that aren’t included here but you get the point. On various occasions I had proposed ordering a new yellow swimsuit and people constantly told me, “I love you in purple!” or “You look so great in green with your hair color!” This year, I listened to my heart and went back to a yellow suit. I felt completely confident and comfortable with my body as I walked across stage and I had fun; which is one the main things to remember.
Tips on how to prepare and absolutely kill your swimsuit walk:
- Be mindful of what you eat but don’t deprive yourself of foods that you want. There’s not a secret diet that will miraculously give you rock hard abs and toned arms…sorry! Be sure to cover your food groups but don’t be afraid to satisfy that craving and eat that cookie or ice cream.
- It’s all about choices. Think of your body as a machine and work to fuel it for success. An important way to think about food is to ask yourself, “How does this effect my body?” … “How will this help me function for the day?”
- Do not fall into fad workout trends. Just because a workout is popular or works for someone else does not mean it will necessarily work for you.
- Do what works for YOUR body and most importantly, activities you enjoy. It’s one thing to do an activity that you’re capable of completely but it’s another thing to do something you also enjoy. The chances are you wont be able to stick with it if you don’t pick something your mind, body, and heart agree on; find something you lol.
- Get enough sleep. Rest does a body good, right? I’ll answer that for you-yes it does. Take a deep breath, relax, and get some sleep. Remember that you can only push yourself so far before you break, don’t let yourself get anywhere near that point; you don’t want to suffer an injury prior to competiton.
- Plan days of rest from your workout schedule and give your body a break. Aside from sleep, your body needs rest days from your workouts. This allows time for your muscles to take a little break and regain strength.
- Pick a swimsuit color that compliments your hair and skin tone. For example, never in a million years would I ever wear an orange suit. Come on…that would clash miserably with my red hair and skin tone. On the other hand, an orange suit may work well for someone with a darker complexion and hair. It all depends on the individual.
- With that being said, also pick a swimsuit color that YOU like. You’re personality and confidence will only shine when you feel comfortable in your own skin and what you are wearing. You need to love your swimsuit in order to achieve that.
- Know your poses and hit them hard. Nothing says confidence more than a woman who knows what she wants and what she’s doing. Determine what you want your poses to be and practice your swimsuit poses and facial expression in the mirror at home. I know it sounds funny but it will help you pick up on cues and you may not have known about before.
- Pick poses that compliment your physique. Personally, I love my legs. As a runner and a dancer, I choose to pick poses that adequately help to showcase my leg muscles. Find poses that work for your body frame and muscle tone.
- Have fun! Swimsuit is an upbeat, light-hearted phase and is meant to showcase a contestants’ confidence. Smile and show them what you’ve got-it’s your time to “werk it girl!”
As my girl Beyoncé says, “The most alluring thing a woman can have is confidence.” Go out there, feel comfortable in your own skin, have fun during your very short time on stage, and WORK IT ladies.