My name is Kiara Imani Williams. I am 25-years-old, and I am a third year law student at the University Virginia School of Law. I am an intelligent, independent, African-American woman.
I am socially conscious and politically aware. I am an activist. I am a philanthropist. I am a feminist.
I am a feminist who competes in beauty pageants. Yes, the type of pageants where women walk across a stage in a bikini and high heels, and work to convince a panel of judges that they want “world peace.” In fact, I am the winner of Miss Virginia USA’s 2015 “Miss Congeniality” award. (No, I am not kidding).
I subject myself to being objectified by a panel of judges who over analyse my body, my clothes, my facial beauty, and my poise.
I wear hair extensions, makeup, and fake nails. I wear butt glue to keep my bikini in place when I walk, and I twirl and turn on stage in overpriced evening gowns.
The purpose of this post is not to defend the institution of beauty pageants, but to ask for acceptance. After two years of competing in various pageant systems, I am well aware that they are problematic in many ways. They glorify a European standard of beauty.
I can admit that walking across a stage in a two-piece is not necessarily indicative of one’s commitment to living a healthy lifestyle.