How Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Olivia McMillan Challenged the Stereotypes and Succeeded
I Can’t Compete Because I’m Too Fat?
Submitted by: Olivia McMillan, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2014
When I entered and won my first local pageant, I was thrilled. At the same time friends and family were congratulating me, others thought I was too large to compete on the state level. I was even told I was too “fat” to compete. As a 16-year-old girl who has struggled with weight most of my life, that hurt.
There are many incorrect stereotypes attached to the “pageant girl” image, and because of them, I thought I could never be successful. I knew I wasn’t fat, but I also knew I wasn’t healthy either. It made me take a good look at myself. Rather than dwell on what people told me I couldn’t do, I decided to focus on what I could do and what was best for me. Yes, I needed to lose some weight so that I could be healthy, fit and active – but I didn’t need to be skinny. I committed to eating healthier and exercising regularly. With hard work, I achieved a weight that felt right and was healthy for me. I went on to win Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen as a size 16, and then the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen title against 52 other young women from around the nation. I took control of my health and my body, and was able to break the stereotypes. I was myself through and through, and to me that is what it’s all about!
Now as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen (the little sister to Miss America), I’m letting girls know they can break stereotypes, overcome challenges and embrace their differences.
My life motto is “Beeee yourself.” It’s a quote from the genie in Disney’s “Aladdin,” and my dad has been saying this to me since I was a little kid. It’s helped me in my experiences with pageants and in everything I do. Being an adopted, biracial girl who worried about her weight, I used to try to be what I thought everyone else wanted. That didn’t work for me. I learned that if I was going to be successful in pageants or life in general, I needed to be myself.
So when people tell me, I can’t. I focus on what I know I can do, and I’m so happy that I’ve paved the way for other girls who felt like they couldn’t succeed. I got an e-mail from a girl shortly after I won who told me that she had never competed in pageants because she struggled with her weight. She said that she saw me win and it inspired her to compete in her very first local pageant. I am proud that I broke the mold of what some people think a pageant winner should be. I hope my story will give other girls the confidence to go out there and be themselves!
BIOGRAPHY: Olivia McMillan, from Warner Robins, Georgia, was crowned Miss America’s Outstanding Teen in August 2014. Each year, the organization hosts a national competition that encourages and rewards the talent, communication skills, community service, and academic achievements of girls between 13 and 17 years of age. The organization has offered more than $18 million in cash and scholarship assistance in the past year alone. As the MAOTeen titleholder, Olivia was awarded nearly $30,000 in scholarship money for her college education and serves as the National Teen Goodwill Ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Her personal platform is the Sibling Support Project, which helps brothers and sisters of children with special needs.
To follow Olivia:
Facebook: Miss America’s Outstanding Teen
Find me at: http://www.maoteen.org/
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