The title of this post is a line from the sacred Serenity Prayer. It is my personal mission statement for life, a constant reminder of how to choose to live. “God, Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.” It is also tattooed on my side.
I am writing this post just weeks away from competing for Miss America because I do not want to shock the nation when I’m seen in a swimsuit, bearing my marks. I want to explain the meanings and reasons behind them, and why I am opting to show them proudly.
I mentioned the first of two, the serenity prayer. As I was growing up amidst the bullying and neglect, I found myself asking God on a daily basis to give me peace in knowing I cannot change certain things about myself, but also asking Him to give me the strength to change things that I had the power to. Praying to Him for these characteristics got me through my adolescent years, high school and boot camp. When I was 20 years old, I knew I wanted to always be reminded of my past and its connection to this prayer. Thus, I chose to have it tattooed onto my body. I have no regrets.
The second is the military medical insignia. Though much smaller than the prayer, the significance is just as great. Since I was a child, God placed a strong passion for service into my heart. Service to my Country, and service to people through medicine. In the middle of this symbol is the letter “D” to represent my dad, whose influence was paramount in choosing this career path.
As you might have noticed, I did not mention dragons, flowers, hearts or other frivolous items as one of my tattoos. I am a firm believer that lengthy and conscious thought should be given before getting “inked.” I am also firmly against (personally) getting a tattoo for the sake of getting a tattoo. All too often I run into individuals that have no rhyme or reason for the choice they made, other than “I just wanted one.” Most likely they will regret their decision after a few years.
So, down to the reason for this blog. Why am I choosing to bear my tattoos? Reference A; my platform! Empowering women to OVERCOME stereotypes and break barriers. What a hypocrite I would be if I covered the ink. With my platform, how could I tell other women to be fearless and be true to themselves if I can’t do the same? Now, had my platform been something entirely different, maybe the tables would be turned. Maybe. But I am who I am, tattoos and all.
Now, many still believe that Miss America is apple pie and pearls. However, in the job description of Miss America it clearly states that “she must represent contemporary women between the ages of 17-24.” The operative word here is “contemporary,” synonymous with modern! 1 in 5 Americans have at least 1 tattoo. If I were crowned Miss America, bearing my tattoos, do you realize the stereotypes and stigmas it would break? Do you realize it would pave a path for a whole new audience to compete in the Miss America Organization? As of right now, the stigma is girls with visible tattoos do not compete in pageants, and certainly do not win. I want to break that. I am a traditionalist, I am conservative and I am a God-fearing woman. Having tattoos does not negate any of those. Think about it.
Two more phrases catch my attention in the job description of Miss America. “She must be comfortable in her own skin” and “She must be true to whom she is as a person.” If I covered my tattoos, would I be fulfilling any of those requirements? No. I would be doing a disservice to myself and to those who have found me to be a role model.
Should I win Miss America because I have tattoos? Of course not. BUT, I shouldn’t be discredited for having them either. This is 2013. We are not in the dark-ages, we are not in the 50′s. We are the leading nation for innovation, creativity and progression. When I dress for work everyday, I act like a professional and I look like a professional. YOU do not know that I have tattoos unless I want you to.
If I don’t win the title of Miss America, I can only hope I have changed peoples perceptions of the type of women that choose to compete for it. God, Grant me the Courage to Change the Things I Can.
On a final note, I’d like to discuss my military service. It has been documented in writing that if I win Miss America, my obligations and responsibilities will be given to the crown. The military has been my number 1 supporter through all of this since they, too, believe in pursuing personal and professional goals. It’s not bad recruiting for them either.
If you haven’t already, PLEASE go vote for my video at www.missamerica.org/videocontest to solidify my spot in the top 15! That is the only way you’ll see me on the final night! Watch on Sunday, September 15th at 9 pm EST on ABC. I will also be featured in ABC’s 20/20 the hour leading up to the final event. So tune in!