More Than A Pretty Face
By Emie Garrett
Breathtaking gowns, elaborate hair and makeup, and dozens of beautiful women gliding effortlessly across the stage. These are the images that fill the heads of most when they hear the word “pageant”, but there is so much more to these competitions than meets the eye. The women who choose to compete work tirelessly to prepare. Elite, scholarship-based pageants, like the Miss America Organization, require their candidates to support a social impact platform of their choice and evaluate the women on their leadership, communication skills, talent, and academics. The women competing in these pageants are not only beautiful, but more importantly, they are outstanding leaders and role models in their communities.
Here at Alpha Chi we are lucky enough to have two of these outstanding women as members of our family, Sophomore Jordan Axel from Kendallville, Indiana, currently holding the Miss Fort Wayne 2019 title and Freshman Lindsay Fincher from Wedowee, Alabama who currently holds the Miss Auburn-Opelika Area 2019 title. Both women will be competing for their home states’ title this June! I had the opportunity to catch up with these two and ask them about their own journeys toward the Miss Alabama and Miss Indiana state pageants. Here’s what they had to say:
As Miss Auburn-Opelika Area and Miss Fort Wayne, what social impact platform do you each support and why is it important to you?
“ ‘Stand Tall America: Adolescent Scoliosis Screening’. When I was in the 5th grade, I was diagnosed with the most rapidly progressing form of scoliosis, and I wore a corrective back brace for the next 3 years. Without yearly scoliosis screenings at my school, my scoliosis would not have been detected and could have progressed to crippling spinal deformity within a year. I now work to spread the importance of mandatory screenings in schools and work to educate parents and students about the the disease and the importance of seeking qualified medical help if they receive a referral. I have created educational coloring books, videos, and bookmarks that explain the screening process for schools and hospitals across Alabama, and I have raised over $1400 for the National Scoliosis Foundation. More recently, I have started a letter writing campaign to US Lawmakers in the 24 states that do not have laws mandating school screenings in an effort to secure legislation addressing this issue.”
“As Miss Fort Wayne, I have the opportunity to share my social impact initiative: Project Limitless with my community and beyond. Project Limitless is a program that inspires all girls to set goals and learn the necessary steps to reach success. Those steps are simple: Identify your dream. Believe in yourself. Work hard. Achieve your goal. To maximize my engagement and reach people beyond my physical reach, I have created a blog for Project Limitless, which can be found at www.projectlimitlessblog.com. I wanted to create a space where I can share and celebrate those who have achieved their goals and dreams. My hope is that those who need to be reminded of their limitlessness can hear the message of strength and feel empowered to crush the limits set by society. Project Limitless means the world to me because it gives me the opportunity to highlight and celebrate the successes of girls and believe in those who have no one rooting for them.”
What has been the biggest obstacle that each of you has faced while preparing for your state competitions, and how have you grown from it?
“The biggest obstacle I’ve faced in my preparation for Miss Indiana has been feeling secure in who I was designed to be. I often compare myself to others and feel discouraged when my work in the gym doesn’t give me “Instagram body girls.” It has taken me a lot of reflection and paradigm shifts to surrender to my design and feel completely comfortable in my own skin. I have overcome this obstacle by coming clean and owning up to my insecurities; not allowing them to break me, but instead empower me and others to feel beautiful in our skin. You can read more on my struggles with insecurities and battling self-doubt in my story “Surrender to Your Design” on the Project Limitless blog under the “blog” tab.”
“I decided to try to compete for the title of Miss Alabama very late in the year. I signed up to participate in the last local preliminary of the year in a very last minute decision about three weeks before the pageant. Additionally, I haven’t competed since my junior year of high school when I aged out of the Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen System. I knew that I would be competing against girls much older who had had more recent experience competing, but I decided to take a leap of faith and compete in the pageant anyways. I actually think that this was a positive thing for me because it allowed me to go into the weekend with no stress or expectations of the outcome of the pageant, and I was able to represent myself as authentically as possible.”
What has been the most rewarding experience that you have had as Miss Fort Wayne, thus far?
“The most rewarding experience so far has been sharing my personal battle with insecurities through the previously mentioned blog post and a Facebook live video. After I opened up, a girl found my video and asked me to come speak on body positivity at the National Eating Disorder Awareness Walk in Tuscaloosa, AL. My pain has become my purpose and I am using my story to empower and encourage others. Speaking at the walk, gave me the confidence and affirmation I needed to continue speaking on body positivity and becoming the best version of ourselves.”
What was the first thing you did after winning Miss Auburn-Opelika Area and realizing you would be competing for Miss Alabama later this year?
“After winning Miss Auburn-Opelika, I turned around and one of the other girls competing in the pageant said “Lindsay, you’re going to Miss Alabama!” This was
the first time that it really hit me that I had achieved a dream that I have had since I was a little girl in the audience at Miss Alabama of competing on that stage! I was thrilled! I celebrated with my family and best friends who came to watch me after the pageant, and of course, I had to make a stop for Cookout cheese quesadillas to celebrate my preliminary swimsuit win:)”
What are you most looking forward to about competing in your state pageant this June?
“I’m really looking forward to competing again and having the opportunity to represent the Auburn-Opelika Area at Miss Alabama in June. I cannot wait to share my platform and allow Alabama to get to know me a little bit better! I’ve been working really hard to prepare, so I’m very excited to show off what I’ve been working on- especially my talent and my platform. I’m also so excited to get to know all of the other contestants during the week. All of the girls involved in the Miss Alabama system are so passionate, smart, kind, and fun, and I cannot wait to spend an entire week getting to know them all better!”
If you were to win Miss Indiana (fingers crossed!!!) what is the first thing you will do?
“If I were to win Miss Indiana this year, the first thing I would do is find my family and friends to give them the biggest hugs and thank them for all of their unwavering support. It truly takes a village, and I would not be in the position to serve as Miss Indiana if it weren’t for the many people who have had their hands on my life. After all of the tears, hugs, pictures, and hopefully a night of rest, I would immediately begin writing out my goals and hopes for the year, planning what is next for Project Limitless, and preparing for my ultimate dream: competing for the title of Miss America.”
After speaking with these two, I was absolutely blown away by their hard work. Lindsay and Jordan are outstanding role models that have a true passion for serving others and view these service opportunities as a chance to make real impact, not just as another talking point for the stage.
In the past, pageants have been accused of being “shallow” or “exclusive”, focusing only on the outward beauty of contestants, but these two girls, and so many of the outstanding women who compete alongside them, prove that this is no longer the case. These women are reinventing the pageant community and creating a competition environment that is uplifting, inclusive and above all else, reinforces the truth that true beauty comes from within.
We know that Jordan and Lindsay are going to kill it this summer on the Miss Indiana and Miss Alabama stages! We cannot wait to see all of their hard work come to fruition the amazing things they are going to do. Good luck from your Alpha Chi family, we are so proud and will be cheering you on the whole way through!