This past weekend the Miss Florida USA 2015 competition finally became real. It was the first time I spent an entire day meeting all the other contestants, being briefed on competition week etc. and it really caused me to take a step back and put everything that has happened up until now into perspective.
I’d like to think that my approach in preparing for Miss FL has been pretty laid back and productive. I’ve performed before, been on stage, prepared for important interviews, walked the runway, been involved in TV productions… nothing entirely new. But sitting in a room with all those other girls I couldn’t help but to overhear all of the anxiety and urgency as they chatted about still needing to get this outfit, or tone up that litttleeee tiny spot of “fat” right there. I started to second guess myself- why aren’t I more stressed? I didn’t even know that part of my body could be toned..should I be working on that too? That’s when I stopped my own rambling thoughts in my tracks and had a heart to heart, Mel to Mel.
My road to the crown has been invaluable and no matter what the outcome on July 12th – the personal journey I’ve made in the past months is something that has completely changed me down to my core. I saw such an outpouring of support after winning the title of Miss West Broward USA (earning my spot into Miss Florida USA) I had never expected. I think the “bully” card is a little overplayed lately, but I will say that I did not receive much in the form of positive support from my peers while pursuing my modeling career throughout high school. That experience taught me to not rely on others for validation, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t still hurt wondering why people weren’t happy for me. I’m far removed from my high school days and thought I had moved emotionally past them until I won the crown in February. I received overwhelming support and love from a lot of the same people who had tried to crush my spirit. In that moment I realized in the chaos of growing up, I had never taken the time to forgive and let go of the things said to me by my peers in their young ignorance.
I’m not only in a better place mentally and emotionally, but also physically. Being in the modeling industry has lead, almost inevitably, to a battle over my self image. I wasn’t taking care of myself and was desperately trying to make my body into something it was never meant to be. I never went to any dangerous extremes- but the constant analyzation over what to eat or not eat put me in a constant state of mental stress and anxiety. When I was introduced to Barry’s Bootcamp (I’ll post about them later on- so much love for everyone there!) I was hooked instantly by the workout and the atmosphere. What I didn’t expect, was to get hooked on the Barry’s community. I was, and still am, surrounded by friends there that shifted my focus from the distorted reality of the fashion world to being healthy, fit, and believing that my body’s beauty is in the eye of the beholder- and I am the beholder.
I have never been happier physically, mentally or emotionally. As I get closer to the crazy week of competition I wanted to take a moment to document my completely raw and real epiphany of sorts to remind myself that this road has been more about the journey than the final destination. I’m bringing everything I have to that stage July 12th and no matter what happens, you have played a part in changing my life forever.