Monday, July 7, 2014

I was never meant to win...

Many of you know I have competed in nine pageants. They never came easy for me. I didn't have a performing arts talent growing up. I had to spend 3 hours a day practicing the piano, just to even be decent enough to perform one song on a stage. 

But I do know Heavenly Father had a purpose in this situation. I was never meant to win.
Yes I was meant to compete; it was an option I know he approved of, because miracles and tender mercies happened in the most incredible ways. There were so many times where things worked out that I had no control over AT ALL. But God did and he made it possible for me. 

Today I was reading an article about the newly crowned Miss Utah and it hit me strong and to my core. It was something I had thought about, but this was Heavenly Father's whisper - confirming my thought. 

I will share a bit of it with you. Miss Utah's platform is "Get Real: Embracing a Positive Body Image Through Media Smarts." For the past few years I have felt that I have a very strong purpose to help girls gain confidence and help them love who they are from the inside out. I have started working on many projects to make this happen and with God's help, it has started falling into place.

But here is the confirmation I needed. One of the comments on this article stated "I'm sure she is a lovely person, but honestly...listening to someone talk about positive body image can be a bit tough to swallow coming from a beauty queen." This is a very good point. Someone who seems to have everything going for them with all the beauty and glam and crown, it would be hard for girls to truly believe what she is saying, because she appears perfect from the outside.

Here's where I am going to get vulnerable and let you in. I want girls to know why I am so passionate about building their self esteem, because it means the world to me.

I had the OPPORTUNITY of being shy growing up.
am GRATEFUL I was an introvert which lead me to feel like I didn't have as 
many friends as I wanted. 
I was LUCKY to experience low-self esteem in Jr. High.
It was an HONOR to go through heartache in relationships.
I was BLESSED with acne after pageants.
I was PRIVILEGED to be bullied in elementary school.
I was FORTUNATE to know what a manipulative relationship feels like. 
It was a GIFT to only get asked out twice in high school.
I had the BENEFIT of going through peer pressure, loneliness, body image issues, 
doubt, anxiety, OCD, not having dreams fulfilled and SO MUCH MORE.

Every single thing I have gone through has made me that much more relate able to teen girls and women. I am the girl that I am today, after going through some really hard experiences. I am now able to see how all of these things can really affect a girl's self-esteem, but I have the tools now to help her build her own confidence and find the beauty within. 

I know exactly what it feels like to be THAT girl, so I seek every day to help girl's know
that these worldly things do not define who she is. Worth and beauty will always start and be 
found from within.

Had I won a pageant, maybe I wouldn't be able to relate to girls on the level they
need me to be on. Just maybe Heavenly Father has a plan for me to reach girls in a way I could never reach them, had I worn a crown on my head telling them 
something they couldn't even see past.

Heavenly Father knows what he is doing. He uses your triumphs to bless the lives of 
others. If I have gone through everything I have in order to help girls, it has all been 
worth it. All the glory goes to him, my desire to help others goes to him.
What a blessing it is that he gave me the strength I needed to get through these 
trials and overcome them so I can hopefully  help empower many girls along the way. 


  1. I love your passion, Ashley! I competed in pageants as well in the MAO system but never won. While it was a tough pill to swallow at the time, it just wasn't in His plan. I love how you are able to come away from these tough experiences with positivity knowing that you are still able to make a difference in a young woman's life, even moreso now.

  2. This was a really powerful statement, and definitely a very humble way to see these experiences in your life. Lots of people will go through this asking, "why me?" and few find the answers as you have. Keep being a great inspiration!

  3. Dear Miss Ashley,

    I don't know if you remember writing me a note in Jr. High and putting it in my locker, but I wanted to finally let you know that I still have that note. I don't know if I ever even thanked you for it. I remember sitting next to you in a science class. (That's when you wrote it I believe.) We were both introverts and so shy! Now look at us, about 10 years later, I still have that note. You were building others self-esteem and you probably didn't even know it. We have grown so much and have both come so far. I am very proud of you and want to thank you for having the courage to write me in Jr. High :)

    Jessica Riches

  4. Ashliegh, I am so grateful that you reached out to me. It is always so incredible to find people you can relate to. Thank you so much for your kind words. You are very inspiring and I can tell one of your gifts is lifting others up! Can't wait to head on over to your blog!

  5. Thank you so much, Jared! You always lift me up in the most positive ways. You're incredible!

  6. Jessica,
    If words could only express the impact this comment has on me. I vaguely remember writing you a note. I do remember you were a girl I looked up to TONS! You inspired me! You still do!! I can't believe you kept the note. I am so grateful to hear that even 10 years ago, I was able to make you feel good about yourself, I had no idea. Thank you so much for writing me and reminding me! You are absolutely incredible Jessica. You are doing amazing things with your life and you are soaring on the path to success! Dreams eventually do come true, don't they? :)

    Have a great day! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reaching out!

  7. Wow! What a great article and perspective! This just makes me even more excited to meet you in August because I feel like we have TONS in common! I'm grateful to Heavenly Father that you endured so that now you can help so many girls. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with the rest of us!

  8. Thank you so much, Emily! I can't wait to meet you, that's so neat that we can relate on so many levels. :) You never cease to inspire me, you are doing INCREDIBLE things!! Thanks for your sweet comment.


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