Modest missus’ demure dress wins real prize
In November I was asked on a dare to run for Mrs. Hawaii. The thrill seeker in me bought into the idea in a millisecond.
The pageant was a difficult task; we met weekly and learned dance numbers and runway walking in gowns and swimsuits, which takes a lot more skill then you'd imagine. I enjoyed the friendships that were forged and continue to watch them flourish.
The night came, and we performed for our friends and families. At the end of the night, I was crowned Mrs. Oahu United States, first runner-up, and named Mrs. Congeniality. I do not regret not winning; in fact I take extreme pleasure in the learning experience it turned out to be. The Lord puts in our paths experiences for learning and growth.
I realized things that were undeniably important to me, such as the traits of being assertive and organized. I've never struggled with the idea of being what others wanted me to be, but to my consternation I found myself in a whirlwind of moral and worldly conflict. I've seen pageants and the type of gowns that were worn. I also knew that in my life many young impressionable girls watched my every move. After much thought I chose to wear a gown that had sleeves on it; in fact, I chose to remain modest in my appearance entirely. On several occasions after the pageant I was told by both judges and others that I was not dressed provocatively enough, and that was why I did not win. I was offended that the focus of the pageant was distorted and confused and that others could not understand the decision I made in favor of modesty.
Then I came to this epiphany. I was elated to accept their opinions as a compliment. It means to me that I stood out from the other contestants and that I did not follow the pack. It means that I have been a role model to young women on what it means to be beautiful and not conform to expectations of the world that fewer clothes are better. It is a compliment to my character because I am a strong enough individual to do what I felt the Lord would approve of. Although it might have been because of my choices that I did not win the crown, I won the respect of others -- most important, the respect of those in my inner circle, the adoration of young ones and the feeling of accomplishment and strength.
True, some pageants can be described as a parade of ditzy women talking about wanting "world peace" in a place where hair and makeup is a must and costumes are required. But I am happy with the decision I made to show how a modestly dressed woman can still affect others. Weeks later a young woman who was on my mind when I made the decision to be modest approached me and said, "Aunty Kahala, I saw your dress online. You looked so pretty and your dress was in standards." I won a crown at that moment: I was helping to teach a young woman not to lower her standards to be beautiful, and I felt accomplished that day.
I'm eager to look back on this experience with my daughter years from now and hear her say, "You looked beautiful, Mommy!" instead of "You wore the low-back, revealing dress so why can't I, it's just one night at prom." I believe this choice will make it easier for me for the future. What choices are we making to make life easier for our children in the future?
I don't foresee myself in another pageant, and I don't feel the need to compete till I win. I am happy being the first runner-up. I've received the gratification and the thrill to do it once and look forward to conquering other heights as a Mrs., as a mother, as a successful businesswoman and as a role model to other young women in our community. Only time will tell what the next great adventure will be for me. Whatever it is, I will be content with knowing I've enjoyed my entire life as I've walked the path the Lord has given me.
Kahalaomapuana Konomu Alencastre is first counselor of the Young Women's Presidency in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Honouliuli Ward.