Miss Utah Gets Real About Body Image

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Third time is the charm. At least, it was for Karlie Major. After competing in the Miss Cache Valley Pageant twice and earning scholarship money both times, Karlie thought she was ready to call it quits. Then at last minute, she decided to give the competition one last go after much encouragement from her director. Karlie, who first competed for Miss Cache Valley when she was just 18, was crowned Miss Cache Valley 2014, earning her a $1,000 scholarship as well as the chance to compete in the Miss Utah Pageant.

The Logan native said while being crowned Miss Cache Valley was a surprise, it was an even bigger shock when she earned the title of Miss Utah. Karlie won a $10,000 scholarship and will now have the chance to compete in the Miss America Competition this September in Atlantic City.

The 20 year old also won a $500 scholarship from Shoes For Love and a humanitarian trip to Africa. As contestants for Miss Utah, they were encouraged to collect a thousand pairs of shoes in only four weeks. Karlie said it really was a family and community effort. Her brother made it his Eagle Project and her sister had the idea to place boxes in the area’s schools.

“This community is so great,” Karlie gushed. “Everyone really got behind me and took it to a whole new level.”

Karlie collected right around 12,000 pairs of shoes, enough shoes to fill up a moving truck.

“I joked that I’d touched everyone’s feet in the entire valley,” Miss Utah laughed.

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It’s obvious that our Miss Utah is driven and passionate, and that definitely showed when she opened up about her platform, “Get Real: Using Media Smarts to Promote a Positive Body Image”. As a woman who grew up doing dance, cheer and now pageants, Karlie said she’s seen her fair share of girls with a poor body image. Karlie also worked at an eating disorder clinic for six months. She saw firsthand how education could prevent girls and women from developing certain illnesses.

“The main focus I’ve taken with this is talking about the media and how the media’s perception of what’s beautiful, or sexy, or successful has really shaped our idea of what a positive body image should be,” she explained.

Karlie is delivering her message to young girls in elementary schools by teaching media literacy workshops.

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“We all know images are photoshopped, but we don’t always know how much. Photoshop and digital manipulation has allowed for some really fun and great things in entertainment, but we need to be able to look at the images we’re seeing and fully understand what they are . . . which is fake,” Karlie said.

Miss Utah believes it’s important to educate young children on these matters since we live in a world where the media is everywhere. In fact, the average American is exposed to over 2,000 digitally manipulated photos every day.

“There are young girls in first grade talking about going on diets, talking about needing to lose weight, talking about being sexy,” Karlie said. “They’re seven and eight-year-old girls. That shouldn’t be the focus.”

Karlie went on to point out that this topic is also current and relevant for men. She said there’s a focus in the media for men to have a muscular physique, and this increases body issues and steroid use.

“It’s easy to say that we need to feel great about ourselves and love our body, but it’s so much easier said than done,” the Utah State University student admitted.

She said she’s thought a lot about how she can not only tell young girls they are beautiful, but have them actually believe it.

“I’ve talked a lot about the power of changing your attitude,” Miss Utah said. “One of the things I’ve done with the kids is take this little heart and it says, ‘I love my_____ because_____.’ We fill in the top blank with something we feel self-conscious about. It might be your legs, it might be your height, it might your size, it might be your ears, your nose, your freckles. Then we come up with a reason why you can learn to love that.”

Karlie then tells the children to hang the heart on a wall or mirror; somewhere they will see it every day. She said if you tell yourself something enough, eventually you will believe it.

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Miss Utah also expressed how important it is for mothers to be aware of how they talk about their own bodies in front of their children.

“If you change your attitude and be a positive role model, it’s going to rub off on other people.”

Karlie said that most have been supportive of her platform, but there have been people who are critical of a pageant girl speaking out on body image. However, she said she feels strongly enough about her platform that she can deal with a little bit of negativity.

“This organization has given me a voice. This organization has given me the ability to change lives, and to be able to go in and talk to a room full of little girls. From the moment you put on that crown, they want to listen,” she expressed. “This is my way of having a voice. As just Karlie, I don’t always have that opportunity.”

Follow Karlie on her journey to Miss America. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under Miss Utah 2014.

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