Manual Trying on Bathing Suits and Other Horror Stories

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This was probably my biggest concern when I was ordering because I hated the thought of throwing my money away on something that would just fall apart. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Honestly I did sort of expect the worst with these but the quality is actually pretty good. The only crappy thing was that I had to cut the suit to take the padding out. I would also suggest staying away from the white bathing suits. I picked up a super cute and simple white bandeau set which I wore to the beach one day. Then I went in the water with my sister and she politely informed me that she could see absolutely everything LOL!

I had to get her to bring me a towel so I could get out without flashing everyone. I think the issue is that the bottoms were only lined in the front SMH. Now onto fit. This was another concern because I am very pear shaped and my top portion is much smaller than my bottom.

I had read a lot of reviews saying that they ran small and to size up but then I was worried a medium would be too big for the top. I took my chances and ordered my usual size — small.

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Surprisingly they all fit! The pink crinkled set has a smaller fit bottom in general but I was still able to get away with it. They had us watch a video compilation that featured past contestants and winners. I didn't look like any of the girls in the video.

Trying on Bathing Suits and Other Horror Stories

All the winners were very beautiful, but they all looked the same: white, thin, and very tall. I wasn't any of those things. After the interview, I had two months to prepare for the actual competition. I knew there was no point in stressing out too much about losing a ton of weight because I only had two months to train for something other girls who have been doing pageants at this scale for years had been doing for a lifetime, and it just wasn't going to happen.

I did want to look good in my bathing suit, though, so I started eating better and going to the gym. One thing that I really struggled with though was my hair. I'd gone natural about two years before, so I have an afro and I wasn't sure how it would go over with the judges.

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Some of my friends told me that my natural hair made me different and it would get me noticed, but others thought Miss Massachusetts wasn't ready for a girl with natural hair, so I might as well conform. By the time orientation rolled, I had decided that a wig was the way to go. So I showed up with a wig that went all the way past my shoulders, which felt really weird. Even though I got tons of compliments on my hair from other contestants I met at orientation, I still felt very uncomfortable because it wasn't my hair — it wasn't me.

But what made me even more uncomfortable were the orientations we were required to go through, where they taught us tips on how to advance in the competition — none of which applied to me. They would offer beauty tips about what to use on your skin; there was a whole session about tanning, and how to angle yourself when you're posing so you don't look too shiny. They talked about a spray that was supposed to help you get rid of the frizz in your hair and tame it and give it body.

I just wanted to scream, 'This doesn't apply to a lot of people in this room! They also made comments about natural beauty like, "Embrace your natural hair texture.

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If they did, their advice on how to win sure didn't get that message across. I just felt very out of place. After orientation, I decided that I wouldn't wear my wig during the competition because I wanted to be my authentic self, and I didn't feel that way wearing a wig. It was around this time that I started to learn more about the girls I was competing against and the extreme lengths they were going to in order to compete.

To raise the money, I created a GoFundMe and asked my wonderfully supportive friends and family to help me raise money for the competition. I thought that the other contestants might have done the same thing. But one girl spent her whole life savings and quit her job just to compete. I tried to be nice about it and not judge her. I realized that people have a variety of reasons for competing and for some, the stakes are much higher. Still, I was shocked that anyone would put winning above their own health or their own well-being.

It was during the actual competition, where I really saw what extreme lengths girls were going to to stay thin. One contestant was taking laxatives and water pills, and some contestants weren't eating at all. What was really disturbing was that the pageant organizers didn't discourage this dangerous dieting. Actually, they seemed totally fine with it. As if that wasn't bad enough, there were girls as young as 14 in the room. I looked around and some of the older contestants were put off by his words, like me, but no one said anything. It was an understood part of the competition.

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That's when I knew this wasn't for me. Even though I was competing, it was almost like I was on the outskirts of it all, watching everything as an observer.

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It made me sad that women were willing to go to these lengths just to be called beautiful. And the reality that most of them didn't stand a chance was painful, because in the end, it was just a beauty contest and they were "too muscular," or "too short," or "too curvy. Knowing that I wasn't going to win, I felt a kind of release. I stopped feeling the pressure and I could just tell myself, 'Have fun and go out there and do the best you can. Most of the questions they asked us during the interview round were pointless like, what is your favorite movie and why?

Or, describe your worst date. Or, what are three things you need in your purse? They just reinforced the feeling I already had — that they only cared about what we look like. The one thing I really enjoyed though was owning the stage. We did an opening number, a little dance where we introduced ourselves.

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Then we showed off our bathing suits and then our evening gowns. It was really a chance to really strut your stuff and be confident in presenting your best self.