Women Empowerment Wednesday: Who Inspires You?

Photo Credit (and hair): Georgina Vaughan Photography | MUA: Oliva Rose Beauty

Wearing: True&Co. Gramercy Balconette

It’s Women Empowerment Wednesday! This week- who is a woman who inspires you?

My grandmother immigrated to the United States from Japan when she was around my age, and during a pretty scary time – when the internment camps were camps were still in operation. I think it’s safe to say that most people from her country probably weren’t jumping at the chance to move when this was happening, but that didn’t stop her. She had her heart set on the American Dream and becoming an American. Nothing was going to stop her, and nothing did.

One of my earliest memories of her is how much she loved beauty pageants. We used to get so excited to watch Miss USA + Miss Universe together each year, and she always made sure I had the perfect crown to wear as I watched the beautiful women on those stages. To me, they were superheroes, and the kind of women I would always aspire to become.

I’ve struggled with anxiety for most of my life (something most people don’t know about me) and for a while it was really challenging for me to verbalize. I think it’s because I didn’t fully understand why I would sometimes feel the way I did, but regardless, my grandmother always knew what to say to make me feel better. She taught me to have faith in myself and go after all of my dreams, which leads me to the next part of this story.

Despite my anxiety and the occasional doubts in myself, the day I turned 18 I registered for my first state pageant to attempt to qualify for Miss USA. The fact that I even found the courage to step on stage in the first place is still crazy to me, but I believed in myself and I believed in my dream (I still do)! Even though I was scared, I always knew in my heart that my grandmother was on stage with me, and with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

I feel like we can all reflect back on a few defining moments in our lives and recognize ones that have shaped who we are. That first pageant in 2010 is definitely one of mine. It’s been NINE YEARS since that day, and here I am, still chasing the same dream – but with a completely different outlook on life and confidence in myself with who I have become. I owe a lot of this to the valuable lessons I gained from being a contestant in the Miss Universe Organization system. Just like my grandmother, I’ve learned how to be fearless, resilient, strong, determined, supportive, encouraging, compassionate, and adventurous – qualities I will carry with me forever.

A special shoutout to Georgina Vaughan Photography and Olivia Rose Beauty for making me glam beyond belief for this shoot! I felt so empowered and beautiful working with them, and am so humbled by the finished product. They are the kind of women who lift up other women, and that needs to be celebrated! Check our their pages (linked above) + give them a follow. 

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