Miss America, Memory, And Motivation

Many, many, many moons ago, I was just a small girl in Ohio watching the Miss America Pageant with my grandmother and sister.  It was a ritual.

We girls would pretend represent our favorite state and would suffer so much disappointment when “we” didn’t win.  Once my sister got so enraged she cursed in front of Granny.  It was the thing of lore in our family.

So you can imagine how we all felt when Vanessa Williams made it to and won the big show.  Of course, it was a big moment for African-Americans, and in our house it was no different.  We both wanted to be her on screen, and for the first time we realized this was a dream we could now dream for ourselves.

Then “it” happened.  The scandal.  Williams had been in Playboy.  She had to give up her crown and the ever so popular “if Miss America is unable to fulfill her duties” caveat came into play.  Needless to say we were devastated.  I don’t think we were old enough to completely understand, but I knew she messed up big time.

“When you hit rock bottom you have no where to go but up.”

I was in the grocery store when I remember reading this on some magazine.  It was Williams’s response to what I am assuming was the question du jour.  And as I’ve watched this “fallen” Miss America go from returning her crown to writing her own ticket, I’ve never forgotten that message.  You don’t – I don’t have to stay down.  I don’t have to believe that any one mistake has defined me.  I don’t have to settle for anyone else’s opinion of me.  One moment in time is just that.  One moment.  Every day can’t be our coronation but it can be our reinvention.

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