Weight Loss Solutions and Other Answers You Don’t Want to Hear

“Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answer to.”

I’ve been told that a lot. For some reason, I really love knowing the intimate details of scenarios or opinions that stab me right through the heart. So, did you guys have a really fun time at that wedding I wasn’t invited to? Did my ex bring a date? Was there an open bar? How about instead of getting these answers, I just assume that the wedding was unmemorable, my ex looked around the room and realized he’d never find someone as awesome as me, and it was a cash bar only. But, no. I always need to get the real scoop, then subsequently fight off all kinds of unwanted emotion. Really healthy.

When it comes to asking questions with unwanted answers, I tend to stick to the personal/relational/heartbreaking sort. I’ve noticed, however, that a lot of people don’t want the answers to general self-improvement questions. As a big proponent of the Change-It-If-You’re-Not-Happy Lifestyle (hence why I’ve moved 8,347 times since graduating college), I don’t really understand why people ask how to further their careers, attract more dates, or lose 20lbs if they’re not actually willing to do anything differently. Haven’t you heard the definition of insanity? Doing the same the over and over again and expecting different results. Come on, people.

When people ask me for advice, it’s usually on one of three topics:

  1. Dating (the irony is astounding)
  2. Wine (so proud)
  3. Weight (flattering)

I’m going to focus on #3 here because my answers to #1 and #2 are really, really simple. I’ll get them out of the way quickly:

  1. On getting more dates: Shower and be social. Give your number to someone if you think he’s decent looking/not a serial killer. Say yes when he asks you out. If he doesn’t ask you out, be a confident superstar and casually suggest meeting for drinks. Then meet him for drinks/whatever he suggests. Congratulations, you just went on a date.
  2. On wine: Drink whatever you think tastes good.

So, onto #3. Let me start by saying that I am acutely aware that I am not the most qualified person to answer questions about weight loss and health. I’m going to lay the facts out there, just so you know who’s talking here:

Full Name: Shannon Marie Oliver

Height: 5’7 ¾”

Current weight: 128lbs (though when I weighed myself yesterday morning, I was pretty dehydrated from all the wine I drank the night before…so you may want to add a pound or two. Just keepin’ it real.)

Heaviest weight: 149lbs (sophomore year of college)

Lightest weight: 118lbs (Miss Virginia 2011)

Favorite food(s): Velveeta Shells & Cheese, Guacamole, or Brie cheese. Can’t decide.


Workout regimen: 4-6 months of cardio 4-6 days a week. Followed by 2 months of forgetting the gym exists. Followed by 1 month of trying to decide if I should just cancel my membership. Followed by 1 month of building back up my routine. Repeat.

When people tell me that they want to lose weight, then ask me how I stay thin (oh, stop, not really, tell me more), I notice that 99% of them don’t actually want the answer. Which is to eat less and move more. It’s not rocket science. Unfortunately, particularly in our society, my definition of “eat less” seems really extreme to most people, as does my definition of “move more.” Sure, cutting out french fries or taking the stairs instead of the elevator are technically examples “eating less” and “moving more,” but that’s really not going to take a big dent out of the number on the scale. I’m not suggesting you starve yourself or become a marathon runner, but this is going to take a little more effort than not putting creamer in your coffee.

Losing weight is a numbers game- you have to burn more calories than you consume. And people would be shocked if they knew how many calories they unknowingly consume per day. 1500 calories/day (the number that works for most women to lose weight) is a medium latte (200 cals), a burrito bowl at Chipotle (900+cals if you get sour cream, cheese, and guac), and a small serving of chicken and veggies at dinner (3-400 cals). Most people eat those three things, along with an egg sammy for breakfast, some pita chips and hummus in the afternoon, an extra serving of meat at dinner, and usually some kettle chips while watching TV before bed. Plus a couple hundred calories worth of beverages. When I try to explain that they have to stop consuming so much, people spout off all the “healthy” reasons for everything they eat. “You’re supposed to eat a big breakfast.” “Guacamole is healthy fat.” “You’re supposed to eat six times a day to keep your metabolism going.” “I have to energize before doing a workout.” I mean, keep telling yourself that you’re making healthy choices, but it’s not my fault your pants don’t fit.

Yes, breakfast is important. Yes, guac has nutrients. Yes, you can manipulate your metabolism with food. Yes, you need to fuel your body for a workout. HOWEVER, there’s no getting around the fact that if you eat a big breakfast, you’re still consuming much of your daily allotment of calories before 9 a.m. If you must eat a giant breakfast, prepare yourself to show some self-control at lunch and dinner. There’s also no getting around the fact that guacamole contains more calories than chocolate ice cream. Fact. And I hate being the bearer of bad news, but eating six meals a day will make you overweight. Six “meals” really means six “snacks,” if you’re looking at food intake through the eyes of an average American. Also, a “workout” does not mean taking a casual stroll through the park with some hills. Walking is an awesome way to start if you’re severely overweight, but if you only need to lose 20lbs, get your butt moving a little faster than that. And keep in mind that even running three miles only burns off some of the toppings on your Chipotle. Diet will affect your results a whole lot more than working out (though they do and should work in tandem).

As you can tell by my favorite foods and workout regimen, I’m obviously not a fitness guru who loves yoga and crossfit and never sees the scale fluctuate. When the scale does jump up 5lbs, I’m very aware that it’s simply because I’m eating too much and cobwebs are beginning to form in my sneakers. The key to weight loss and maintenance is being honest with yourself and catching a backslide early. For me, cutting out entire food groups or following diet plans just leads to binge eating. I’m an excellent and impressive binge eater. Because of not wanting to perpetuate that talent, I’ve never been on a technical “diet” and the only time I cut out a food group was leading up to Miss Virginia. (I stopped eating starchy carbs. Getting on stage in a bikini and heels will make you do crazy things.) Anyway, when I gained weight my sophomore year of college and during my first five months in NYC, I didn’t really change what I ate. I just ate more of it. When I lost weight, I just stopped eating portions designed for NFL linebackers. Truth: it’s not necessarily what you eat, it’s how much you eat.

In my current stage of maintenance, I am aware of what I put in my body, but don’t overthink it. If I want fries, I get fries and eat as many as my little heart desires (which is usually all of them). But if I do that at lunch, I eat less than usual at dinner. Since that tends to be my routine (big lunch, tiny dinner), my coworkers think I have the metabolism of a hummingbird and my roommates think I’m borderline anorexic. I’ve stopped caring what they think and just do what works for me.

When people ask you how to achieve something, most of the time they don’t want the answer because the answer challenges their lifestyle. In this case, it’s “Oh, the way you stay thin isn’t how I want to do it” or “You just snap your fingers and lose weight because you had to do that when you were in pageants” or “You don’t indulge enough.” Alright, that’s totally cool if you want to think that. I know I’m not a poster child for healthy choices, but at least I’m honest, not at war with food, and apparently look decent enough for you to ask for my advice.

Listen, improving your life is not easy. And weight loss/maintenance holds unique challenges for everyone (plus we all look good at different weights, thanks to differing body types). No one escapes the temptation to make excuses about one or more areas of life- some people just entertain their excuses longer than others. For all of us, though, it’s time we start asking questions and actually acting upon the answers.

(I’m talking strictly the self-improvement questions, here. Still haven’t learned my lesson about those pesky personal/relational/heartbreaking questions. I’ll stop asking them someday. Maybe.)

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Filed under Food and Health

Being Basic: 3 Realizations during Fall

dream phone

Tinder = Dream Phone. These playing cards had the cream of the crop, I’m tellin’ ya.

Fall is the most basic season. Pumpkin spice lattes: check. Leggings: check. Flowy infinity scarves: check. Hunter boots: check. At this very moment, our nation’s average white basic girls (PG version) are transitioning out of the third stage of summer [click here to read the 3 stages of summer] and into their nightly routines of red wine, Scandal, and last ditch efforts on Tinder to find a boyfriend before everyone goes into hibernation during the winter months. [Side note: I’ve never been on Tinder, but I can’t help but equate it to that game “Dream Phone” from the late 90s. Same thing, right?] Autumn is too basic to have its own stages, but it certainly comes with a few realizations. While cozied up in oversized sweaters and gazing at the golden hues of oak trees, basic girls come to these three conclusions:

1. Jeans are actually worse than shorts

I don’t know why people focus on fitness in the summertime. Sure, you don only nine square inches of material at the beach, but after the first few sandy frolics, most of us find that the joyous freedom of being nearly naked far outweighs the fear of a little jiggle in our wiggle. Stuffing our happy, free, and recently-tanned jiggle into a pair of tight jeans brings our newly obtained hippy spirits crashing back down to reality.skinnies Maybe all of that summertime potato salad and beer wasn’t the wisest choice. While most people hit the gym in January (resolutions, duh!) and May (beach weather!), I glue myself to the elliptical in September. Thank the Lord for cyclical fashion trends, because the 80s legging craze provides a much needed buffer between free-flying limbs and sausage cases  skinny jeans.

2. Having friends means watching football

Plenty of ladies enjoy watching football. I get it. However, a large crop of basic girls enjoy football only to the extent that it allows them to show off their homemade buffalo chicken dip, cute jerseys, and ability to hang with the guys. As a girl who can’t cook, owns only a hand-me-down Jim Kelly jersey from my stepmom (go Bills!), and far prefers to hang out with my girlfriends over dirtysweatystinky boys, I can’t even pretend to be basic in this arena (no pun intended). Still, I recognize that the only way to keep any sort of social life afloat during fall is to grab a LIGHT beer (see #1) and casually shake my head in a forlorn manner when someone mentions having drafted Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson on their fantasy teams. Thank you, The Skimm, for sending me emails every morning that allow me to function in society when I would otherwise be labeled clueless.


This is a little taste of the Skimm I received just this morning. What is the Skimm? “The Skimm is the daily newsletter that simplifies the headlines for the educated professional who knows enough to know she needs more.” Shout out to my coworker MGiff for changing my life with this recommendation.

3. College is the best

Most girls learn their basic behavior in college. Messy buns, leggings, Uggs, and Starbucks compose the uniform of the average university coed. The basic uniform gets a slight upgrade in post-college life as we wait until at least November to throw on the Uggs and usually do our hair in the mornings so that we don’t have to partake in an embarrassing talk with the HR department, but the foundation is definitely set in college. The link between fall and college transcends merely fashion, however.basic Each autumn serves as an unwelcome reminder that we will never again get a three month break from responsibilities each summer or live on a campus with all of our friends and endless food at our fingertips. As my college years fade further and further into the distance, I find myself fondly chuckling at those sweet young spirits returning to school and wearing face paint at football games on the TV (full circle) who have no idea how good they have it. And then I realize that I’m 26, not 76, and need to get a hold of myself.


That’s all, y’all, and happy first day of fall! #rhymingisfun

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Filed under Humor, Lists

Never/Always: Top 40 Hits Edition

I lost all of the music on my iPhone after moving to Virginia a year ago and am too poor to pay $10/month for Sirius, so now I just listen to FM radio in my car like a rock star. Because of the nature of FM radio, I have the pleasure of hearing the same 40 songs on repeat- some cycling through more often than others. If you’re interested in making me a mix tape (mix CD? Playlist? How does this work anymore? #granny) in 20 years from now to bring me back to that time I was 26, broke, and generally confused about life, please refer to this list.

11 Current Top 40 Hits I ALWAYS Want to Hear

11 Current Top 40 Hits I NEVER Want to Hear

By the way, I used the most recent American Top 40 list (9/13/14) to compile these songs. Trying to keep this ish official.


1. Problem by Ariana Grande⇒ You didn’t enjoy summer 2014 unless you enjoyed this song. Also, here’s a fun photo of Ariana’s brother, Frankie Grande, and me (and the gorgeous LTSig). #namedropper #photodropper


2. Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nikki Manaj⇒ This song is basically the sequel to Lady Marmelade by Xtina, Pink, Mya (what actually happened to her career?), and Lil’ Kim. Obsessed. Also, my voice has a really major girl crush on Jessie J’s voice.

3. Boom Clap by Charli Xcx⇒ The first 50 times I heard this song, I thought it was paying homage to choreographer Laurieann Gibson from the show Making the Band with P. Diddy and Danity Kane (circa 2005). In my head, these lyrics will forever be “Boom Kat, the sound of my heart.” Love it, love her.

4. Black Widow by Iggy Izalea feat. Rita Ora⇒ Iggy and Rita just fully own the “crazy ex” stereotype and it makes me laugh/fear for all men/maybe relate a little bit.

5.  All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor⇒ This song almost makes me want to gain a few lbs. Almost.

6. Shake It Off by Taylor Swift⇒ Curse you, Taylor! Everything you do is so stinkin’ catchy that it’s impossible to pretend that I’m cool enough to not love bubblegum pop.

7. Rather Be by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne⇒ There’s nono no no, no place I’d rather be than in my car singing this song at the top of my lungs.

8. Stay With Me by Sam Smith⇒ His voice is pure butter, plus the lyrics make me simultaneously feel like there’s no hope for love in this stupid hook up culture and plenty of hope because the chorus is so pretty that it sounds romantic. I never know which way the song will make my emotions swing, so that keeps it interesting.

9. Shower by Becky G⇒ It’s just a happy song. And makes me feel more normal for dancing in the mirror.

10. Amnesia by 5 Seconds of Summer⇒ Because the 11-year-old inside of me will always have a soft spot for angsty boy band songs. Can’t help it. They know how to reach me.

11. Latch by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith⇒ Again, bow down to Sam Smith’s voice. Also, Meryl and Maks danced to a slow version of this song on last season’s DWTS and I am still shipping four months later. Every time I hear it, I imagine that someday I’ll find their kind of chemistry.

You have to watch this. YOU HAVE TO. And they still claim they’re not together. Super dumb.



1. Rude by Magic⇒ At first I thought this little jam was catchy, but then I realized that it’s essentially just an immature boy complaining through my speakers. Why won’t your girlfriend’s father give his approval for you to marry his daughter? Do you have savings? Are you loyal? Respectful? I don’t know anything about you. This is probably your fault.

2. Hideaway by Kiesza⇒ Maybe if Paula Abdul sang it, but I don’t know.

3. Maps by Maroon 5⇒ Not their best work. I’m at a payphone and it’s getting harder and harder to breathe because I’ve got moves like Jagger on Sunday morning and now I’m in misery during this wake up call. Please tell me you followed that/think I’m a genius.


4. Am I Wrong by Nico and Vinz⇒ It just sounds like a million other songs. Give me more spice. Keep me more interested. Wow me.

5. Summer by Calvin Harris⇒ This song was bearable in the summer, but now it’s fall and I’m not feeling it.

6. All of Me by John Legend⇒ Personal problem here. Can’t handle the memories. It’s me, not you, John.

7. Bailando by Enrique Iglesias feat. Sean Paul⇒ Sorry, but this brings me straight back to my first neighborhood in Washington Heights, Manhattan where I couldn’t sleep because of the block parties and gunshots. [Disclaimer: This is not racist. I just like my sleep.]

8. Don’t by Ed Sheeran⇒ It’s like Jason Mraz and Justin Timberlake had a baby and it’s not as cute as I wanted it to be.

9. Fireball by Pitbull feat. John Ryan⇒ Pitbull, stop yelling at me using lots of words I can’t understand.

10. This Is How We Do by Katy Perry⇒ There’s actually only one note in this entire song. One.

11. Habits (Stay High) by Tove Lo⇒ I feel like this is the kind of song that plays at parties in Brooklyn where people look at me funny because I’m not dressed in a flannel and ripped skinnies with high tops.



Alrighty, I look forward to my trip down memory lane in 20 years! Remember to label my mix tape “Shannon’s 2014 FM Jams.”

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Filed under Lists, Never/Always

Miss America 2015: Kira-sistible

I’m going to make this short and sweet because, let’s be honest, Sunday is a school night for this granny and it’s already past midnight.

In case you were watching football instead of Miss America tonight, let me fill you in: Miss New York won for the third year in a row. According to Facebook, people right now feel all the feels. So. Many. Feelings.


I’ve read some really nasty comments about Kira Kazantsev winning Miss America this evening. I’ve also read a lot of wonderful things, however am having a really hard time not letting the negativity overshadow the excitement. It’s taking everything in my power to not call folks out by name on my blog at the moment, because I am sorely disappointed in the lack of class I’ve seen on social media. I want to let these sourpusses know that in no circumstance is it okay to bash a young woman- particularly one that you don’t know. I’m glad everyone has opinions. That in itself is fine. Actually, opinions are great. Otherwise, who would watch the pageant? But put on your big kid pants and try to remember that these women are humans who are defined by far more than a bikini and plastic cup (named Wilson, in case anyone wanted to know).

Let me tell you a few things about Kira. She has been in Atlantic City with the other 52 contestants for the last two weeks. Many of you know that two weeks ago was the two year anniversary of my mother’s passing. Kira took the time out of her crazy-busy schedule at Miss America to send me random texts saying “I love you!” and “I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you.” During a period of time that was about her dreams and her success and her experience, she made an effort to make me feel loved and comforted. That’s something special. kira3Rewinding 1.5 years, I’ll never forget when she competed in her first local pageant in the Miss America Organization, because it was during my first week as Miss New York. She shone so darn bright on that stage and was so refreshingly non-pageanty that everyone held the phone and asked where she came from. Through laughter after winning, she requested a lesson from me on how to put on the crown since she had never worn one before (wait, wearing a crown isn’t normal? What?). Her ability to laugh at herself fumbling with the crown made me fall in love with her on that very first night. Such a goof. But besides the fact that she’s down-to-earth and thoughtful, Kira is absolutely brilliant. She speaks fluent Russian and Spanish, graduated as a triple major, and was accepted into some of the most competitive law schools in the country. On top of that, she has overcome tremendous struggles that I won’t share here, but are the motivation for her platform, “Love Shouldn’t Hurt”- raising awareness for domestic violence. This girl is a good human. Someone worthy of being a role model.

But you’re angry that she sang while using a plastic cup as percussion?

Because that matters so much. Right.

Keep in mind that this is coming from someone who takes talent very seriously. Talent is my jam. I won talent in both Virginia and New York when I competed. I sang professionally for a year. I’ve taken voice lessons since I was nine. I know what I’m doing. But I’m not offended that someone whose strength wasn’t talent won Miss America. I still think talent is an important part of the competition, but Kira was engaging, personable, and didn’t try to scream out a song that she wasn’t capable of singing. She knew her voice and used it in a way that was reflective of her overall appeal. I applaud that. Plus I really loved the nod to Anna Kendrick and Pitch Perfect (for those of you who live under a rock, that movie inspired Kira’s cup action- she didn’t get the idea from the cafeteria table in third grade). Even if you don’t agree with my assessment, why do you think it is okay to put her down? The argument people love to make is “she put herself in the spotlight to be ridiculed.” Um. Nope. Not why she competed at Miss America. She put herself in the spotlight so that she could have a platform to make a real difference in this crazy world and maybe meet Beyonce (I mean…). And even IF Kira held up a big sign that said, “I’d like you to ridicule me, please!”- what kind of person does that make you if you have the desire to do that? Take a Xanax or chug some wine or maybe both and just go to a corner and stay there.

Okay, so the cup thing was an issue. Addressed that. The other issue was people saying she isn’t pretty enough. Part of me doesn’t even want to tackle the ridiculousness of these statements because I just…can’t. For lack of better words. I simply cannot. Kira is probably top 5 hottest girls I know, which really says something, because I know a LOT of hot girls. Does that sound weird? Yes it does, but it’s true. Thanks to the Miss America Organization, my girlfriends are really easy on the eyes. Said it. Anyways, how does someone get the honor of being on my personal list of top 5 hotties? Well, first of all, they have to be really gorgeous. Kira: √. Second, they have to carry themselves with a confidence that makes every head turn. Kira: √. Third, they must dress in a way that only 1 out of 1,000,000 can pull off. Kira: √. I’m allowed to be shallow here because, remember, we are addressing the fact that people have attacked her physical appearance. Miss America is a beauty pageant  scholarship program where the girls are, yes, judged on how they look, but I didn’t see anyone on that stage- Kira included- who wouldn’t get a thumbs up on the thumbs up/thumbs down test. Don’t know that test? Ask your boyfriend. He knows.


A picture from the night Kira won her first ever local pageant in the Miss America Organization! Oh and that other hot blonde I’m sandwiched between? That would be the current Miss CT, Acacia Courtney, who also rocked it as a semi-finalist this evening.

I hope most of you are sleeping off all of your feelings by now, but let this post remind you that you don’t know the hearts and minds of anyone you see on television. Whether a celebrity or a pageant girl, you have no right to tear people down- especially those who are using their time in the limelight for greater good. If you’re a pageant girl who was saying negative things about Kira, I’m even more disappointed. More than anyone, you should be able to imagine how it’d feel to be in her platform heels shoes. Let’s pull it together, everyone, and be happy for this woman who I can personally confirm is a gem of a being.

I kind of want to end with a sassy “HAH! Even if you don’t like her, she is Miss America and you’re not nanananabooboo,” but that just doesn’t seem classy and is maybe even hypocritical, so I’ll end by saying congrats, Kira! Your heart obviously won the judges over in your private interview, you rocked it onstage, and you stayed authentic the whole time. Those are accomplishments no one can ever take away from you! Way to make history with the threepeat and I’m beyond excited to watch you take over the world this year! You are simply Kira-sistible.

BTdubs, eight of my predicted 10 (<– click) made the first cut. Just saying.


Okay, I’m typing things like “BTdubs.” I should go to bed. Night.


Filed under Pageantry

Miss America 2015 Predictions

OMG everybody grab your Modlash 33s, Jergens Natural Glow, and favorite pair of nude pumps. It’s Miss America week!

Honestly, how has no one come up with an awesome way to make a hit reality show out of Miss America? For years, TLC, ABC, or whatever network Miss America ping pongs onto has tried and failed to come up with an entertaining way to promote the pageant with a four-episode series leading up to the big shabang. THIS SHOULD BE EASY. My personal idea is to have former Miss Americas/Miss States do something of a Drunk History (<–click), where they crack open a bottle or three of wine and tell stories from their glory days, with professional reenactments coinciding with their narrations. I personally know plentyyyy of formers who would happily partake in a clean-ish version. Somebody please forward this idea onto ABC execs. If they can convince Comedy Central to let them do this spin off, I guarantee it’d get huge ratings…plus it’d be a much needed departure from pageant reality shows revolving around the dried up stereotype of catty crown chasers or scary little girls with veneers.

Stop clutching your pearls. You know it’d be hilarious.

But since we’re currently stuck with no form of entertainment surrounding the pageant except for updates on the Miss America Facebook page, I’ll go ahead and use the small amount of information I have to give you my prediction of this year’s Top 10 (Miss America airs on Sunday, 9/14, at 9 p.m. EST).

Not to brag about my amazing talents, but I can say all the states in alphabetical order in one breath, which came in handy when making this list. Keep your eyes peeled for these chicas:

1. Miss Alabama, Caitlin Brunell


Any guys out there recognize her last name? Do any guys read my blog? Dad? *crickets* Caitlin’s dad is former NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell. What does that have to do with her chances at Miss America? Well, besides the fact that she’s been raised to be well-groomed and educated, not that much. Still, it’s worth mentioning since we all need a little sports news in our lives other than the Ray Rice scandal. But back to Caitlin. I’ve seen this girl in person and she’s pretty darn breathtaking on stage. I also love the fact that her talent is dancing to Frozen’s “Let it Go.” She clearly knows that the only people watching Miss America are gay men and little girls in tiaras. KIDDING. Kind of. In all seriousness, everyone I’ve talked to says she’s a sweetheart and incredibly personable. Add in the fact that she has legs for days and a long-standing personal platform (<–click), I think we’ve got ourselves a finalist. Plus she’s a Phi Mu! LIOB <3

2. Miss Connecticut, Acacia Courtney


I’m not going to pretend that I’m not slightly biased, considering I lived with Acacia (uh-kay-shuh) for a week when we were roommates at Miss New York 2012 (she goes to school in NYC, but lives in CT, which makes her eligible in both states- for all of you with confused looks on your faces right now). Speaking from personal experience with helping her change in our hotel room, this girl’s swimsuit body is on POINT. Inappropriate? Sorry? While we’re on her looks, I should mention that she is the girl targeted in One Direction’s hit “What Makes You Beautiful” and Sammy Kershaw’s tune “She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful.” Pick your genre. And age. See flow chart. What I’m saying is that Acacia happens to be an amazon goddess, yet somehow remains the most humble and loving creature on the planet. It’s almost unfair. On top of that, she’s a brilliant speaker and a trained ballerina princess. I expect her to be a top contender.

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3. Miss Florida, Victoria Cowen


Let me catch you up to speed. A gorgeous girl by the name of Elizabeth Fechtel was crowned Miss Florida a few months ago. One week later, officials announced that they’d crowned the wrong girl. Gasp! Victoria was the rightful queen and took her place upon the throne. Elizabeth was stripped of her title and sent back to work in the fields among the peasants. Wait, sorry, that was a bit dramatic. Elizabeth graciously stepped down (the dethroned Miss DE could’ve learned a thing or two from her…just trying to help you out, girl) and Victoria assumed the responsibilities of Miss Florida 2014. I don’t know much about Victoria, but trustworthy sources say that Elizabeth is a pageant force like no other. If Tori (Facebook indicates that’s what Victoria likes to be called…not even sorry for being creepy) finished above Elizabeth, something tells me she’s one to watch. I also see her hugging my girl Miss New York in a lot of pictures, so I consider us friends by association.

4. Miss Georgia, Maggie Bridges


You guys. I have such a girl crush. It all started when I saw her take part in Pageant World’s play on Jimmy Kimmel’s segment called “Mean Tweets.” During Mean Tweets, Jimmy Kimmel has celebrities read aloud the mean things that people tweet about them. Pageant World’s version had pageant girls read mean things that people wrote about them on anonymous message boards (Voy boards). I’m SO MAD I didn’t think of that idea before Pageant World, because it really is brilliant. What better way to make those cyber bullies feel like idiots? Anyways, Maggie was in the video, so I already know she has an awesome sense of humor and is super confident. Check and check. She also really stood out in a video I watched of all the contestants introducing themselves on stage during their arrival ceremony in Atlantic City last week. In an effort to be well-informed while creating this list for you all, yes, I spent 20 minutes of my life watching a video of all 53 girls saying their names into a microphone. You’re welcome. A lot can be determined about a person’s presence in a simple introduction, so I expect great things in the interview room. Oh, by the way, Maggie studies business and biochemistry. SOLD.

5. Miss Iowa, Aly Olson


Usually, the down-home state of Iowa doesn’t get much attention in the good ole U.S. of A. But lately, it’s been shining bright like a diamond. I mean, hello, Farmer Chris is even from Iowa. Oh, you don’t know who Farmer Chris is? Read this (<–click). I like Aly because she seems really natural, well-spoken, and legitimately talented. I’ve watched a few interviews of her on local T.V. stations and she always seems laid back and authentic. She also has this indescribable spark in her eye that tells me she’s in this thing to win it. I’ve always been told that no girl wins Miss America unless she truly believes it’s hers to lose, and something tells me this ginger is expecting big things from herself. I like that. You go, gingey!

6. Miss Louisiana, Lacey Sanchez


Not to be shallow, but Pantene Pro V needs to call this girl STAT and use her locks in a whimsical commercial. Obviously, good hair isn’t the key to winning Miss America, but it sure won’t hurt. Lacey has big hair for being such a little nugget, though her lack of height seems to have helped her in preparing for swimsuit, because it’s pretty clear she couldn’t reach the cookies on the top shelf. I want her arms. She won both the fitness and talent portions of the Miss Louisiana pageant, so I expect a solid performance across the board. Speaking of the board, the Voy board has torn this girl apart for her eyebrows. Let that sink in. Random people across the nation are sitting behind their computers and critiquing a stranger’s eyebrows with such passion that you’d think Lacey’s last name was Peterson. Just for that, I hope this girl makes the cut at Miss America so that all of the eyebrow activists across our great nation can be defeated.

7. Miss Mississippi, Jasmine Murray


Back when American Idol was still relevant (btw, Carrie Underwood is pregnant!!), Jasmine was a finalist on the season with Adam Lambert. I think she was like, 12, at the time because that feels like forever ago, yet somehow she is still eligible to be Miss America. Nonetheless, this beauty sure knows how to capture the attention of a panel of judges. Obviously, she can sing- plus she’s abnormally gorgeous. I’ll be honest in that it’s hard to gather much about her personality from videos I’ve seen, but I just get this hunch that the judges will be captivated by her. Anyone who’s read my blog knows that Professor Trelawney and I have a lot in common, so I think it’s safe to trust in my divine instincts. Or is it..?

8. Miss New York, Kira Kazantsev


Accurately described by my peeps in New York as a unicorn, Kira is a rare and mystical being. She’s that untouchable girl who dresses like every day is a stroll down the runway at NYFW, but then talks to you like you’re best friends and makes you forget that she’s wearing skin tight red metallic pants. How she simultaneously completed three majors, got into law school, and owned NYC’s social scene like her name was Olivia Polermo is beyond me. Impressive doesn’t really cover it. Kira is cool yet vibrant, edgy yet chic, and relatable yet brilliant. It’s funny to see pageant fussbudgets freak out over her clothing choices, because she dresses like a true fashion girl should- fearlessly, unapologetically, and en trend. Think Carrie Bradshaw. If the judges are looking for a Miss America who can hang with celebs on the red carpet, then turn around and talk to politicians and news anchors without missing a beat, Kira’s your girl. Her talent is totally unprecedented- she channels Anna Kendrick and uses a solo cup for percussion as she sings. Her interview is a knock out- the girl exudes pure intelligence. Her body is sick- she walks in her swimsuit onstage like it’s a completely normal activity. Call me biased since, like CT, I know Kira personally, but I’ll be shocked if the judges don’t fall in love.

9. Oklahoma, Alex Eppler


As people say in the pageant world, it’s Oklahoma. There’s something in the water down there. Miss Oklahoma always shows up at Miss America ready to win. Alex is statuesque, mature, and incredibly well put together. I know that description doesn’t sound wildly exciting after my fan girl report of Miss New York, but trust me- it’s something to be commended. I can see this girl sitting on the Miss America throne of the 1950s as a timeless beauty who oozes class. She seems like an old soul, which might be the ticket to standing out among a group of energetic, overly enthusiastic coeds.

10. Miss Virginia, Courtney Garrett


I haven’t spent much time with Courtney, but we competed together years ago at Miss Virginia (her first year and my last in VA). I remember standing behind her in swimsuit and marveling at the force field surrounding her body that defied the laws of gravity. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky to have such a force field holding up my derriere, so marching onto the stage in her tracks wasn’t my favorite moment. Courtney is more than just a walking mystery of physics, though. Her brother has cerebral palsy, so Courtney is an incredible activist and spokesperson for people with physical disabilities. Nothing she does feels exploitative for her personal gain, which can often be the case with pageant platforms (not trying to put anyone down…but we can all admit when a hospital photo seems contrived). With a heart of gold and consistency in all areas of competition, she’ll probably be the judges pick for the All-American sweetheart.

Hope everyone tunes in this Sunday night to see how well my list holds up! Happy pageanting.


Filed under Lists, Opinions, Pageantry



2010 Miss Virginia send off party

I can’t even imagine. I’ve heard those words a lot this week.

Two years have passed since my mom died. Two years since I was singing with my brother at the foot of her bed, watching her heart pump vigorously as it struggled to do its job. Two years since I fixated on the rise and fall of her chest for hours, nervously waiting for her breathing to change like I’d read about in hospice pamphlets. Two years since at 3:20 p.m., it changed.

After acknowledging the shortened breaths and gathering everyone upstairs, I held my mom’s right hand and choked out Jesus is Lord alongside my brother, sister-in-law, grandmother, stepdad, and I think a few others- though it’s hard to recall. I vividly remember sensing the exact moment that she left us, but I continued to sing and stare at her chest, willing it to move again. My stepdad finally broke in and said something along the lines of “You guys, I think she’s gone.”

At that moment, I thought something earth-shattering would occur. My mom was no longer here. I couldn’t laugh with her, ask her what to do, feel her hug me, or simply hear her voice. Surely, the world would shift. But nothing happened. Weirdly enough, instead of nothing being the same, everything was the same. I picked up my cell phone to call my dad, and the touch screen worked like it always had. Later that night, my brother’s in-laws made burgers, which tasted like burgers do. The next morning, I woke up early to see my little brother off to his first day of third grade, and all the kids darted onto the bus like normal. Everything was the exact same.

Just like the amazing people who comforted me this week, I couldn’t imagine losing my mom until it actually happened. Seeing the flickers of pain and imagined empathy on the faces of my friends jolted me back to when I was in their shoes, before those final moments I just described.

Imagining the unknown was awful- maybe even more awful than the reality. Don’t get me wrong. Losing your mother is terrible. Most definitely. That part is easy for everyone to imagine, though. What’s not easy to imagine, and what I want to share with everyone reading this, are the parts that stay the same…or even more surprising, the good parts:

I knew I had insanely dedicated friends before my mom passed away, but the amount of texts, calls, and random acts of kindness that I’ve received over the last two years is astounding. The more love I’ve felt, the more I’ve pushed myself to be a better friend in return. I’ve learned how to be effectively supportive of other people through following examples of active compassion shown me, which will undoubtedly make the rest of my life more meaningful, mentally expansive, and fulfilling.

I’ve never struggled with body image to the extreme extent that many young women my age do, but I’ve certainly had my insecure moments. Since losing my mother, however, the way I see my body is drastically different. My mom always made fun of her legs- muscular, short runner legs with varicose veins and calves so big that she could never wear boots. I remember rubbing my mom’s leg as she laid in her hospital bed and thinking how perfect it was. It was hers. They were the legs that I sat on when I was a little girl. They were the legs that jumped up and down when she got excited. They were the legs that patiently stood in the lobby after every pageant and performance as she waited to give me a hug. I now look at my imperfections through those lenses, knowing that my body is a unique shell that the people I love associate with my soul. Those who matter- myself included- don’t value me based on its “beauty” or “flaws,” so bring on the boat parties and makeup-less mornings.

My mom and I had an extremely close relationship, so she gave me tons of advice over the years. I am sure that I could have continued learning from her year after year, but losing the ability to talk to her has forced me to open up to other wise women in my life. I’ve learned far more from my grandmother, stepmom, discipler, and friends’ moms than I would have if I hadn’t lost my primary confidant.

These positives, along with others, exist as a result of losing my mom. Of course I wish she was still here, but life has a way of taking care of you. I still can’t imagine what it’d be like to go through tragedies different from my own, but at least in this case, I’ve found that with the right support system and faith, it’ll all be okay. The whole motivation for this post is the hope that someone, or multiple someones, finds that over-used and under-grasped phrase comforting. It’ll all be okay.

All that’s left for me to imagine about losing my mother is what it was like for her to meet God. I end with that, because it’s a pretty marvelous thing to imagine [<-click].



Filed under Reflection

You’re My Bad Habit

I’m not sure if any of you noticed, but this was the summer of crop tops in Shannyland. For those of you who pushed “Unfollow Shannon” are not friends with me on Facebook or don’t follow my Instagram, let me recap:


I’m not embarrassed. I like what I like. Also, are you judging me for repeating tops? Don’t.

You know how people say that we are creatures of habit? I’d like to think that in choosing each weekend summer outfit, I’m just a walking representative of this concept- a concept which takes a huge, yet relatively unacknowledged, role in all of our lives. Consider me a catalyst for thought, one crop top at a time.

Why do we always put our right shoe on first? Why do we park in the same unassigned parking spot every morning? Why do we dry ourselves off after every shower in the exact same way? It’s like a memorized towel dance at this point. I flip it and ruffle it and twist it in strict choreography without even thinking. It’s honestly kind of impressive. Similar to this:

[Watch it! Make the time. It’s worth it.]

The only reason I can come up with for why we are creatures of habit is because if we had to put significant thought into every little detail of our lives, we’d be exhausted. I’m exhausted just deciding what filter to use on Instagram, which bottle of wine to buy, and if I want my soy chai iced or hot. [For those of you who are new to sarcasm, ease up. I’m not that much of a basic betch…though it’s true that September and October are tricky months when it comes to my Starbucks order.] Saving your brain power for necessary decision-making is acceptable, but some habits are worth the effort of breaking- and I don’t just mean picking your nose (ew, you’re gross).

The way we interact with other people is greatly out of habit. Our relational dynamics change from person to person, which is why we turn to some friends when we want a night of laughter, others when we need a good sounding board, and still others when we want to delve into deep conversation. Knowing what to expect from certain personalities and chemistries is only normal, but becomes dangerous when relationships that were once positive dive into a negative spiral.

Most of the time, unhealthy relationships are saved for family and significant others because they are the people to whom we are most attached. And attachment gets really sticky (think- something sticks to something else…aka attachment). We often become overly sensitive to the behaviors of our family and loved ones, resulting in an extreme lack of patience. Perhaps every time your mother calls, you feel like she’s nagging you to do something, so before you even answer the phone, you get in a snappy mood. Even if she’s just calling to remind you that you’re having dinner on Sunday, you bark back with “Ugh, Mom. I know! I’m not irresponsible like you clearly think I am.” Whoa, there, buddy. She just wanted to remind you because she knows you’re busy, plus she’s looking forward to it. Your habit, however, is to react defensively no matter what comes out of her mouth. Something similar might be the case with a significant other. You get so accustomed to constantly bickering that you don’t remember what that person is like outside of the negative bubble where your relationship currently resides. It’s hard to even recall what it was like when you were flirtatious or fun because the habit of having no patience is so ingrained.

So how do we escape these bad habits with people that we love? Because of how the human brain works, we can only replace old habits with new habits. Heard that before? It doesn’t just apply to eating patterns. (Sorry, but I’m never going to replace french fries with a salad. I’m just not.) In relationships that give us grief, we can’t absentmindedly expect things will just magically change without an intentional plan. A new route. New habits. Mentally prepare yourself for the next time your mother calls. Decide that no matter her tone or topic, you are going to make her feel completely loved. Next time your boyfriend acts uninterested in your day, go make a batch of cookies and silently give him one with a smile on your face. Then call up your girlfriend and talk about something going on in her life instead of telling him how insensitive he is. Do these things every single time you want to react negatively until it becomes a habit. I’m not saying to brush issues under the rug, but perhaps 21 days of forming a new habit on your end will surprise the other person and, in turn, their habits will start to change, as well.

Maybe I know nothing (like Jon Snow…GOT fans, I know you love me right now), but I’ll let you know how well this concept works in 21 days. Or maybe I’ll forget and write another Never/Always series 21 days from now, but I still think changing our own habitual negative reactions to other people can only lead to good things.

You may thank my wardrobe full of crop tops for this insight, along with @ashli_p (Insta) for being the reason I went on a crop top shopping spree in June. Visit her blog. It’ll make you giggle a lot and dress better. http://ashliwithaneye.com/2014/06/17/summer-2014-style-crop-top/

By the way, I wrote a post on a similar topic back when my blog was Shannon’s NYC…those die hard readers may remember. (Hi, Dad and Claire Buffie- I think that’s just you guys) Here it is: Expectations

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Filed under Reflection, Relationships

Do I Know You?

I wonder what it would be like to be Britney Spears.

She’s quite the legend, equally known for being the biggest female pop icon of the century (more so than Madonna? Maybe?) and for shaving her head bald during a mental breakdown. That little display was enough to challenge even Olivia Pope’s PR skills, but here we are seven years out of the crazy hole and Brit Brit is the ultimate comeback kid. Whoever the real life Oliva Pope is- if you’re out there reading this- I commend you. We all commend you.

The extent of my knowledge about Britney includes what I just wrote, along with any facts I learned on her E! True Hollywood Story. Oh, and my ex-boyfriend used to work at a hotel where she stayed and said that she didn’t leave her room in the best condition. She also requested an extra microwave so that she and her possy could heat up their frozen meals simultaneously (at least I assume that is the reason one needs an extra microwave). I’m not going to hate her for that. Can’t say I’ve never been impatient while waiting my turn for the microwave.

I call her by her first name, can tell you about that time she got married in Vegas, and might even feel like I’m in the room with her during televised interviews, but I actually know more about how my roommate’s skittish cat thinks than I do about the inner workings of Britney Spears’ mind. I don’t know the real reason she shaved her head or who her closest friends are or what her favorite Lean Cuisine meal is (again, assuming she eats them because of the microwave thing). I have no idea what she regrets, who broke her heart, or what she thinks about when she’s falling asleep.

Britney Spears is an extreme example of something we all experience. People think that they know you because they follow you on Instagram or heard a story about you from a friend’s ex-boyfriend’s new fling’s coworker. This is flattering and all (or maybe terribly unflattering depending on your life choices), but let’s keep a tighter grasp on reality, shall we? On a regular basis, I bump into a total stranger who gives me a giant hug and gushes “It’s soooo good to see you!” Where am I. How do I know this person. P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney. Bingo. Fabio. Elmo. Nemo?

I’m not saying that I’m super popular or anything. That would be false- just ask the fine folks on my high school prom court or anyone from my freshman year hall. Actually, don’t ask anyone on my freshman hall because I’m pretty sure none of them would recognize my name…unless you mention that I was the girl who had a “no cussing” sign taped above her mirror, strictly wore oversized sweatpants, and hoarded oreo pie from the dining hall. I wasn’t exactly a social butterfly. What was I saying? Right. Although all of us have had strangers exclaim, “Hey! I know you,” I must say that the stranger-hug thing became a much more prevalent part of my life post Miss New York. I’m sure the same goes for anyone who has taken part in a somewhat public activity.


When people think we know each other because they saw me give a speech, heard my name mentioned as “the girl who went to CNU and then became Miss New York,” or simply because they’re pageant fans (which do, in fact, exist), I don’t get annoyed or proud or feel much of anything. Mostly I think it’s kind of funny as I smile and pretend like we’re old friends (once I move past the initial Dory moment of wondering how I’m supposed to know them). On occasion, however, someone will say, “Oh my gosh! What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be off being famous or something?” These scenarios tend to take place in a bar, so I immediately feel a mixture of amusement and embarrassment. Um, nope. I’m just your average 26-year-old trying not to make poor choices. I appreciate the assumption that I have my life all figured out because I guess that means I don’t appear to be in shambles, but we’re dealing with some major life misrepresentations to those who only see me as a former Miss New York.

I’m not going to write a laundry list of things that make my life a little bit of a shambly mess because A) That’s super depressing and B) They’re mostly first-world problems, however the above comments have really set my wheels spinning. On a much smaller scale than Britney Spears (I don’t mean to compare a house cat to a lion…not sure why I keep referring to cats in this post), people who only know me from a distance think they have an idea of who I am. Maybe they have an overly positive view of me, or perhaps they think I’m a stereotypical dumb, catty beauty queen. Who knows? This uncertainty of who people have made me out to be in their heads makes me evaluate my own perception of people I only know through social or mainstream media. This covers everyone from my best friend’s ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend to Britney Spears. Just because I recognize their faces and know a few facts about their lives doesn’t mean I actually know them at all.

I started thinking about this concept of recognizing someone vs. legitimately knowing them a few weeks ago and have decided that it’s time to wipe my brain clean of opinions I have about people I don’t know. Very few things presented to us in packaged interviews or filtered photographs are reality. Even second hand stories give a one-dimensional impression of a person rather than an all-encompassing understanding of who they really are. In certain circumstances, I’ll take my friends’ warnings or endorsements to heart, but as a whole, I think it’s time we all start forming opinions based on organic, personal interaction. Don’t you think?

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Filed under Opinions, Pageantry, Reflection

Never/Always: Fear Edition

The time has come for the second edition of my Never/Always series. Go ahead- find out if you’re braver than me. I never claimed to be a Gryffindor. I know who I am, and it’s a Hufflepuff. I’m okay with that. At least I’ll never fear being myself (which is also why I have no shame in opening this blog post with a Harry Potter reference).

11 Things I’ll NEVER Fear

11 Things I’ll ALWAYS Fear

I think I’ll switch things up and start with ALWAYS this time around.


1. Sharks. How people get in the ocean without the sinking feeling (no pun intended) that Jaws is stalking their feeble little legs is beyond me. I should point out that this is coming from a girl who was bit by a dolphin. If a shark is in the vicinity, I think we all know who doesn’t have aqua-luck on her side.


2. Taco Bell. Meat or cockroach remains? We’ll never know.

3. Sending an email to the wrong person. Almost every time after I hit send, I have a twelve second panic attack until I hastily check my Sent box to see if I just forwarded that inappropriate Buzzfeed article to my roommate or to my grandmother.

4. Smelling bad. I have perfected the art of smelling myself without anyone noticing. I just need to get a reallyyyy close look at my belt buckle, that’s all.

5. Roller coasters that suspend at the top. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked God for forgiveness at the top of the Griffon at Busch Gardens. The only reason I ever went on it is because I worked there and I felt obligated to accompany my friends who sat through listening to me sing “That’s Amore” in white tights and a petticoat.


6. Windows with no blinds at night. There is absolutely someone watching me on the other side, planning when and how they will kidnap me.

7. A bodily function occurring at inopportune times. First kiss. Staff meeting. Church. What if I make a sharp movement and something goes terribly wrong?

8. A dog not liking me. Every time I meet someone’s dog, I get so scared that it’ll back away from me like I’m a demonic figure, and then my friend/date/whoever will think I’m secretly an evil human.

9. Fruit garnishes. You guys do know how many hands have touched those, right?

10. Putting trash in the dumpster. I partake in the dump and run technique so that I can avoid the raccoon that is probably waiting to pounce on my face.

11. My reflection on Saturday morning. Yeesh.


1. Stale water that gathers bacteria. If I wake up in the middle of the night after a wine binge and the only water next to my bed is in a glass that’s been sitting there untouched for five nights, I rationalize by telling myself that children in Africa would be thrilled for such clean water and proceed to gulp it down.

2. Taking advantage of my pedestrian rights. Maybe it’s because I lived in NYC, but I just glare at whatever car is speeding towards me as I cross the crosswalk and assume my intimidating demeanor will stop them from taking me out.


3. Public speaking. I know this is one of the most widespread fears out there, but I was blessed/cursed with barely noticing the difference between speaking to a crowd of 500 vs. my best friend on my couch.

4. Haunted houses. I am not talking about haunted houses during Halloween where high school drama kids wear their favorite masks and jump out at you. Those things terrify me. I mean haunted houses that supposedly harbor real ghosts. I don’t think any ghost out there holds anything against me, so I’m not that worried.

5. Garlic. I feel so bad for people who are scared of getting garlic breath. Live a little.

6. Death by chocolate. I’m so clever.

7. Beer before liquor. “Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear.” Yeah, or maybe just try the age old technique of knowing your limits.

8. Balloons or feet. Because I’m not irrational.

9. Clowns. Why are they scary? Tell me why. I know so many grown adults who lose all composure at the sight of a clown. All I can do is sit and judge you for being scared of a plastic doll or an enthusiastic man in face paint.


10. Commitment. I happen to have a heart.

11. FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out. Nope. Don’t have it. You guys have fun doing your thing while I take my nap. #granny

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Filed under Humor, Lists, Never/Always

Nobody Falls In Love with Pretty

I can’t keep up with what’s beautiful anymore. Between the campaigns for “real beauty” and the countless beauty product advertisements, I’m getting more mixed signals than L.C. did from Stephen on Laguna Beach (throwing it back in honor of their upcoming ten year reunion). Am I supposed to be more curvy? More toned? Or should I be a little softer since women are made to carry babies? Should I grow my hair long or be that edgy girl with a pixie? Are freckles cute or am I expected to cover them with foundation? And somebody explain to me if a juicy butt is a good thing or a bad thing, because Baby Got Back and All About that Bass have me feeling really confident until I walk into a boutique and they seem to have forgotten 25% of the material needed to complete a pair of shorts. And then there are jeans. Somebody besides Apple Bottom please for the love of all things good and holy learn to design a pair of jeans that a relatively thin white girl like myself can wear if she still has a booty. I face the struggle of back gap* constantly.

*back gap: when your jeans fit over your butt, but since your waist is small, the pants leave a large gap at your lower back where the jeans don’t curve back in with your bod

I got a little carried away in that opening paragraph, but I’m not here to write about how we’re all beautiful in our own, natural, unique way. You’ve already read that article about 6,000 times- and it’s true. But there’s another side to things. I think the reason that I am getting so many mixed signals about beauty is because people don’t want to face something plain and simple: some people are more aesthetically pleasing to the eye than others. Just ask little babies who they want to look at for a longer period of time and they’ll tell you the same thing (calm down, I’m not actually suggesting that babies speak). They haven’t been influenced by culture or stereotypes, but according to researchers, babies fixate on pretty faces over- how do I put this lightly- “less pretty” faces. baby stareI don’t know exactly how far apart your eyes need to be or the chin to forehead ratio necessary to be considered beautiful, but we all know pretty when we see it. Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if you don’t think Halle Berry is an attractive human, then I’ll never be able to trust a word you say.

If you’re upset that I just said that some people are prettier than others, please take ten deep breaths. It’s okay. I urge you to continue reading.

If someone falls under the pretty category, that’s neither here nor there. I mean really- who cares? Yes, this is coming from someone who took part in beauty pageants. I have a lot of really pretty friends thanks to the Miss America Organization, but I am not friends with them because they’ve perfected how to apply lip liner without looking like Bozo the Clown or because they’re featured in WEN hair commercials. Those things are neat and do, in fact, make me fixate on them like a baby when we’re sitting across from each other at a bar, but it’s not why we’re friends. Both in and outside the Miss America Organization, my best and favorite friends are those who make me laugh really hard, listen to me cry, open up about their lives, engage in deep and philosophical conversation, and who stick around when things get ugly. We’re talkin’ a bottle of wine each, pizza sauce on your face, and greasy hair ugly.

popcorn gif

I think we can all agree that our closest friendships have exactly 0% to do with bone structure. Therefore, why in the world do we worry about that when trying to attract a mate? Of course it’s important to shower and look like you give two flips about life, but nobody falls in love with pretty.

Recently, I met a good-looking male who reminded me of this lesson. I won’t say how recently because if this spreads on Facebook, I don’t have time for an unpleasant phone call…so let’s say that “recently” means within the last year. He was your standard looker. Tall, good hair, straight teeth, a nose I can’t remember, and looked like he could run at least a mile without needing medical attention. Solid. The first night we met, I did not need to know if he could carry a conversation because the bar music was so loud that I was happy just bopping along, flashing him the occasional smile, and entertaining myself by developing intricate plans in my head as to how I could get the bartender to give me my next drink for free. The next time we hung out, I was thrilled to find out that he had a cool job, owned a house, and liked dogs, but by the end of the night felt like Fat Amy talking to Bumper Allen in Pitch Perfect. You know, that scene when Bumper says to her, “Soooo, I’m getting the feeling that we should kiss. Are you also getting that feeling?” to which Fat Amy replies, “Sometimes I get the feeling that I can do crystal meth, but then I think, mmm better not.” I’ve watched Pitch Perfect twice this week. I need you to get on my level. Anyways, despite finding him about as interesting as Kristen Stewart, I figured this guy was worth another chance. I refused to believe someone so well-educated, handsome, and seemingly social could be as lame as I’d perceived. I must’ve caught him on an off night. During round two, somewhere between him openly checking out other girls right in front of me, dissing gay people (ahem, that means exactly a quarter of my entire friend group), and then trying to attack my face with his tongue as I swerved left (I think he pretty much licked my right temple), I decided that I should never, ever question my instincts again.

You see, he was pretty, but that made me about as interested as a dog is in a grape. It rolls off the counter and the dog instinctually goes over to it, but after one sniff, says “mmm, better not.” As I look at the wedding and engagement photos flooding my social media accounts, I’ve noticed that there is no correlation between good looks and marriage. I see “less pretty” people marry other “less pretty” people, “less pretty” people marry “pretty” people, and “pretty” people marry “pretty” people. I’m sure all of these couples are attracted to each other on some physical level- at least I would hope so, but I guarantee that most of them became more attracted to one another as they grew emotionally, spiritually, and mentally closer. Physical attraction is crucial (I can’t stand when people say it’s not), however it doesn’t simply mean that you think someone is the second coming of Chris Hemsworth or Heidi Klum upon first glance. I wouldn’t be mad at ALL if I end up with a Chris Hemsworth clone, but the point is that in a culture that talks so much about beauty, we need to remember that it holds no importance when it comes to finding love. Love runs a lot deeper than a perfectly executed cat eye, toned and tanned legs, or a flawless fitted tee/jean combo. It’s an inexplicable connection, dedication over time, and a shared desire to eat a ton of sushi always lift up the other person. So instead of spending so much energy improving and talking about looks, perhaps we should channel that energy into bettering ourselves so that when Mr./Miss Right does come around, we’re the kind of person they’ve been hoping for, too. One of my favorite pieces of advice is Be the person whom the person you want to end up with would want. Working on yourself is different than changing yourself, and I highly recommend it! Because, let me repeat, nobody falls in love with pretty.


Filed under Reflection, Relationships