BLOG: My Journey Becoming Healthy & Confidently Beautiful
Written by Miss Pennsylvania 2017 Lauren Ann Weaver
Hello! I thought it would be proper to first introduce myself, so here it goes. My name is Lauren Ann Weaver and I am currently 17 years old living in a very small town called Windber in Pennsylvania. I am currently proud to hold the title of Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA 2017.
Attaining this title has been a journey of a lifetime that accomplished one of my “forever” dreams. Always a pageant enthusiast, pageantry has continually fascinated me. Specifically, the motto to be “confidently beautiful” as supported by the Miss Universe Organization caught my attention some time ago. I realized this description matched my pageant perceptions and that’s how I knew this was the pageant system in which I wanted to excel.
While I consider myself more than proud and fortunate to hold this title and pursue my next dream, Miss Teen USA 2017, I have learned many valuable life lessons in such a short time; my life has been truly transformed. To that end, I have been asked several times about myself and my pageant journey, that I decided to explain and summarize some of my insights here.
To begin, I would like to first describe myself as your not-so-average teenager because of the many events that have taken place in my life from winning my first pageant to battling eating disorders. As Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA 2017, there is much responsibility that comes with the crown and sash as well as a passion for what one believes in and what one wants to accomplish by the time that short year is over. I have found it to be a journey of self-discovery and service.
Therefore, one of my goals as I am truly motivated by service, is that I want to dedicate this year to spreading awareness of eating disorders and display the true side effects of these horrifying illnesses. Now, you might be asking, “Why? Why do you care about eating disorders?” Easy question that adds to the fact that I'm not your average teenager.
To elaborate, I have battled eating disorders for two years and I am still struggling with body image to this day. First, I have battled through anorexia; after about 6 months of starving myself, I had started eating again, and then developed bulimia from the guilt that came with consuming food because I was so worried about gaining weight. Here's another question that you’re probably thinking of by now – “How does someone obtain both of these eating disorders?” To answer this question, I must explain that I obtained them from society and the constant wish of being "model skinny."
Many people have come up to me and said "You're so pretty and tall! You should be a model!" Well, after hearing that quite regularly, I thought, "Wow, I wonder what I can do to pursue that?" Of course, every teenage age girl follows Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, and so many other top models on social media, which is when I noticed that every single one of them was super skinny. I wanted to become a model so badly that I was willing to starve myself to be like them - SKINNY. After around 5 months of starving myself, I dropped from 140 pounds to about 110 pounds, which I thought was pure happiness to me. That was until I looked in the mirror and felt as if I could count every single bone on my body. Then, it hit me: This was not beauty. This was personal torture I had put myself through just to be skinny. Time went on and I broke my starving streak and started eating again. I started gaining weight FAST and in the back of my head I'm thinking, "What is going on????" I felt such high levels of guilt from eating and gaining weight, but I started to like the taste of food again and was not willing to give that up. The only thing that would help my situation was basically throwing up everything I ate so I wouldn't gain weight. From this, my second disorder has now been identified and another battle is now being fought on my personal battlefield. I did not understand what the side effects were and that I could have to battle this for the rest of my life.
Those two disorders, anorexia and bulimia, are part of the reason why I started this blog today--to help individuals like me. I want to aid and become a motivator so others understand that basic body image is not worth destroying one’s health and one’s mental thought process regarding food.
From something bad, always comes something good. After the fight to become a healthy individual again, I decided to find a way to spread my story as an awareness for eating disorders by competing for my first pageant EVER--Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA 2017! I had become introduced by pageants from my lovely boss/second mom, Ronnie Weaver, who proudly wardrobes me as Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA 2017 and mentors me through life. She has explained that the Miss Universe Organization, founders of Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, provides a microphone for one’s voice for any social cause one might feel a heavy passion for and in which a difference is calling to be made. I competed, and I won Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA 2017, which has given me the microphone to spread my personal story and awareness. After all, everything happens for a reason.
So, there is my message and story. I am proud to have been a not-so-average teen, to have competed successfully in my first pageant ever, and to have started this blog. It is all to help individuals, like me, who struggle with body image and to become a healthy motivator and inspiration to all teenage girls across my state and hopefully, my country.
Until we meet again,
Lauren Ann Weaver
Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA 2017