Putting Myself Out There

Putting Myself Out There…in a Beauty Competition! WTF?

November 3, 2021

Yes, you read that correctly: A BEAUTY COMPETITION for women over FORTY!  You may be thinking, “What the F–is she doing?” I don’t know. Maybe I’m going through a mid-life crisis or something. Yep. But I did it anyway, running in a FabOver40 beauty competition. I put myself out there. Baring it all so to speak—well, at least for an Indian. Since I am in my very late forties (okay…the very last year of my forties), I jumped in after seeing the contest on Instagram. Did I really think it through? Uh, no. Instead, something inside of me pushed me to submit the required photos to officially toss my hat into the ring. When I pushed the submit button, it felt like it wasn’t even me doing it—yet, at the same time, it felt like someone deep inside of me was pushing the button.  Either way, I’m in and scared shitless!!!  

Why was I so scared to enter a beauty competition?

Wouldn’t you be?  I remember watching the Miss Universe pageant when I was younger. The women were gorgeous, talented, and had incredible figures. Exactly the opposite of how I felt about myself. Perhaps that’s why I chose to jump in at forty-nine—to prove something to myself.

I am scared because at almost fifty years old, I put myself out there to be seen by everyone I know. Really seen. Most women my age probably wouldn’t enter a beauty contest. It feels almost like a silly diverse, almost purposeless. I mean who wants to see a woman who is almost fifty? We’re past our prime. We’re old. Though I don’t feel old. Or past my prime (whatever that means).

How the contest works

The way the competition works is you throw up a lot of photos of yourself, answer a few questions, and then you have to get people to vote for you. You get a free daily vote, and people can contribute to The National Breast Cancer Foundation to cast additional votes. The woman with the most votes wins. Seems simple enough but the contest runs through multiple rounds, which means I get to broadcast the news to my entire world via social media channels and beyond to ask them to vote for me. Daily.  Then remind them to cast their votes without begging or being annoying.  I’m totally dependent on others and their generosity.  The contest runs for a total of nearly two months, so it’s important to keep people interested in voting for me.  That’s the putting myself out there part.  I declared I’m competing and then I pop up on everyone’s social media reminding them to vote for me….and I could lose! I’ll likely lose.  But what if I win? 

I have woken up many times with my inside voice screaming, “WTF did you just do to yourself?”  That voice in my head that created the story I have carried around for forty-nine years, “There you go again, doing something that you shouldn’t. Who would vote for you? Why do you do this to yourself?  You know you are not good enough to win this, so why bother?”

Why do I bother?

Why do I bother?  I’m not sure.  All I know is that something deep inside of me said, “Try.”  I have been working on myself a lot lately—physically and emotionally.  COVID gave me a gift of slowing down and losing some weight, weight that I have carried around for years.  I have been working out and eating well.  No magic bullet.  

Most of all, I have been working on my emotional side.  Digging deep into who I am.  And let me tell you, it’s not easy or pretty to do.  There is a lot of crap that comes up that I had to take responsibility for and understand why I did things the way I did or why I didn’t.  But slowly, I have been slowly releasing baggage which also meant releasing weight.  

I posted photos on social media to track my progress at the encouragement of my trainer. As my friends saw the images, they were all so encouraging. I mean, really lovely. I didn’t have any so-called skin in the game, though, when sharing—until the competition. Then, people could see me—really see me—and the outcome of the competition would be public. Whether I won or lost, it was all there for anyone to see.

What have I got to lose?

I can’t actually lose anything.  Except maybe my dignity?  I’m being dramatic.  Losing is like being rejected.  It sucks. But this really isn’t about the competition. It is about putting myself out there.  What I was concerned about is what people would say.  I expected certain people to ask, “Why? Why would I do such a thing? What is the point?” I expected some people to comment on my pictures because, for the first time in my life, I look better than ever.  I can wear tight yoga pants and my backside looks awesome.  I can wear workout bras without a shirt on top and I don’t have as much of a belly that hangs out.  I look strong.  I actually love the way I look now.  

But I was still scared to be seen.  I am used to hiding myself and my body.  Most people think I’m extroverted but, because I was always somewhat heavy, I wore comfortable baggy clothing.  Actually, I was most afraid of what my mother would say.  Yep, I’m almost fifty and I am terrified of what my mom would say.  And at first, she didn’t say anything.  But one day, it came up.   

She said, “You shouldn’t wear those kinds of things and put pictures up.  What will people think?”  I know she was coming from a protective view as she always does.  She wants to protect her daughter from idle gossip or bad energy.  And for a minute, I was a little disappointed. For another minute, I thought she was right, and again…who am I to put up a photo of myself looking good and enjoying myself?  And then I had self-doubt followed by that deep stirring in my soul, the Goddess in me said: “F— it.”  I have never been able to wear outfits like these in my life and it’s not like I am parading around outdoors inappropriately.  Plus, let’s be real, I likely only have a year to wear stuff like this.  So, I just continued to post.  Frankly, some of these photos of myself were inspirational to me. 

This beauty competition is so much more than a competition for me.  It’s putting me outside of my comfort zone and—what is the saying? —“When you are uncomfortable is when you grow.”  I’m terrible at sayings but you know what I mean.  I have had to put myself out there and be seen.  And accept the encouragement and support from my friends and family has been tremendous.  I love you all.  It truly takes a village, and I am the luckiest girl in the world with my tribe.  This is also changing the way I view myself.  There is even more growth and evolution happening and none of it is uncomfortable.  

Where can you challenge yourself?

As the competition winds down, I know I’ll either win or lose via the votes, but I’ve already won in so many ways. My challenge for you is to figure out where you’re hiding, playing small, or needing to push yourself in surprising ways. Go for it. You can do it. And I can’t wait to hear how you changed as a result. Stay tuned for the final results on an upcoming blog!

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Gauri lives life full out and shares her experiences, challenges, and insights candidly on this blog, A Bad Indian.

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