Cyber Hate: My Response to the Pageant Boards Bashing Young Women

In Inspiration by Kristen Dalton Wolfe10 Comments

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If you missed it, my sister Julia shared her story called The One Boy Who Crushed My Life a few weeks ago. She is a former Miss NC Teen USA and there are these message boards in the pageant world called Voy forums. As competitors, we are told to stay off of them because of the terrible comments that are made about us. Yesterday, one of them posted Julia’s story and the slew of hate began. When I read the comments, not only did my heartbeat quicken because they were bashing my own sister, but also because I was reminded of all of the girls, including me and my friends who have been victims of this form of cyber bashing.

These boards are rarely talked about and often become the elephant in the room because everyone pretends they’ve never read them. But I want to bring all of this reckless hate to light in an effort to end it all. Therefore, I have decided not to limit my lengthy response to the board, but to make it public for the defense of all women who have been wrongly hurt.

My response:

Hello everyone. I was made aware through a friend about the posts on this board. First of all, I would like to thank each of you for taking the time to read Julia’s story. Secondly, I recognize that my response to the unnecessary degrading comments on here is most likely pointless considering the truth that there are some who find contentment in hurting others. They will find ways to do it even when it is entirely baseless. Why else would one take the time to type in this website’s address & then create a false identity to hide behind when writing and claiming hate over a person? But I am not concerned with a mean response back to me because I am defending my family & all the young women who are and have been negatively affected by these boards.

“She will be viewed as a trainwreck.”
Now, on to address the topic at hand. To start, these girls, including me do not compete and “put themselves in a public figure position” to be torn down, criticized & ridiculed. Most don’t even do it to become famous, even though the opportunities are exciting. I can say because I have competed myself that most young women compete to improve their self-confidence, to overcome an insecurity, to speak out for an important cause or because they are girls that love to feel beautiful in an evening gown. Most of us have no idea that these vicious boards even exist until we are in the mix of competing. So that would negate the statement that girls willingly put themselves in positions to be ripped apart. Alyssa Campanella, Miss USA 2011 shared her story, The Secret Battle of a Beauty Queen on how the cyber bullying she faced led to social anxiety and depression. She simply had a little girl’s dream of competing at Miss Universe.

“Julia screams insecurity.” To the comments that state that Julia has major “issues” and is “insecure.” Have you considered how you are contributing to that? Because you are exactly right. Many young women compete because they are insecure and are being brave in seeking to remedy that. I was one of those young women. Yes, confident on the outside, like most of us learn how to be, but painfully insecure in the depths of my heart. If we’re all being honest with ourselves, who in the world isn’t at at least one point in their lives?

The women who compete are between the ages of 14-26, which are critical years of developing identity & self-worth. We are not robots or rock-solid beings that have no feelings to the mean things that are said about us. You have the choice & the power to build these women up or to crush them. Your words have more impact than to be carelessly thrown around like one of the hateful comments that stated, “try not to get blood on the floor.”

“I smell desperateness from attention from anyone who posts this kinda sob story.”
How would you feel if someone heartlessly called the hardest time in your life a “sob story?” It is common knowledge in the world of counseling and psychology that acknowledgement, transparency and speaking on your testimony is the beginning to all healing. The purpose of hi-lighting stories of young women on SheisMore.com is to show others that no one is perfect, regardless of how our social media feeds appear. We all go through dark times, and these brave stories show other young women that they are not alone in their struggle.

Isolation & denial leads to self-harm, depression & sometimes suicide. This is where many young women who battle with abuse, eating disorders & self-mutiliation exist. Why do you think these girls stay in a state of isolation, keeping their battle to themselves? Because they fear heinous, judgmental responses like these.

Lastly, to the person who defends the negative comments in saying this is not cyber bullying: Consider how you would feel if these words were spoken to you and about you. How would you react after you had been vulnerable in sharing your story in hopes to encourage others? Your words carry a lot of weight, despite what you may think. Is your intention to cause destruction? Yes, you can say it is someone’s choice to come to these message boards. But the fact is, most girls at least will hear what is being said about them. We need you to take responsibility over the words that you speak and channel them to uplift, edify & encourage us. I guarantee you that you would start to feel more joy too.

Yes, I took the time to write this lengthy response because this is my sister, her heart and her vulnerability that some of you are choosing to take advantage of. My passion and the mission of She is More is to empower all women, not to destroy them. I would love to see a revolution in how we treat each other. I am not saying I am always an angel, but I am open to acknowledging my mistakes and changing my ways if I hurt anyone.

I do thank all of you who were kind & supportive in your responses. You are amazing and so appreciated. Aside from this board, both Julia & Alyssa did receive an outpouring of touching feedback from women all over the world who have gone through or are currently going through the same thing.

Ultimately, the purpose of this message is to encourage us as women to hold ourselves to higher standards by helping to build the self-esteem and self-worth of the women we meet & choose to discuss. Words are powerful and make a huge impact on lives. A good way to gage if something is worth writing is if you are willing to stand by your real name & not hide behind a fake one. How do you choose to use your influence?

Sincerely,
Kristen Dalton
Miss USA 2009

If you want to join the revolution of empowering women, you are invited to share this message with your realm of influence.

Comments

  1. Britt

    Absolutely sad! The silence surrounding abuse, mental illness (such as anxiety, depression, etc.) is a hug problem in our country and the reason suicide rates are so high and why violence among teens towards others is high. The bravery she shared is incredibly and I don’t think it was a mistake. Thank you Julia for breaking the silence and stereotypes surrounding these issues… pageant girls are women and people just like anyone else.

  2. Lauren Sergesketter

    “How would you feel if someone heartlessly called the hardest time in your life a “sob story?” ”
    Exactly!! It really breaks my heart when women start belittling other women’s problems. Whether it is depression, loneliness, or a massive tragic disaster, ALL of our battles matter. All of us deserve to be built up rather than torn down. Good for your sister and good for you for standing up!

  3. Stephanie

    As a woman who once did pageants in my early teens, and started at an even younger age, I can vouch for all the reasoning behind participating in pageants. I was incredibly shy but upon becoming involved in pageants I really found my confidence. It was a wonderful outlet for me and the interview portion also taught me how to properly speak with adults. I was well beyond my peers in communicating with authority figures because they didn’t intimidate me anymore. Cyber bullying wasn’t a big issue at that time, but I imagine that if it was I would’ve no longer been willing to put myself out there in a public forum. It’s so easy to sit behind anonymity and judge people. It’s the ones that have the guts to continue to be in the public eye that are truly courageous. I know I couldn’t do it the way people are today, I believe it would break me. Everyone is welcome to have their own opinion but I don’t think spewing hate is helpful to anyone.

  4. Nicole

    This is an incredible article Kristen and I am so glad that you’ve decided to confront the terrible Voy forum issue that everyone seems to ignore and allow to continue. Shortly after winning a title, you are told to stay off the voy forums. However, curiosity always seems to get the best of us. I will never forget some of the hurtful comments that were posted on that board about myself. Comments from people I have never met, and comments from people who are “friends” that hide behind the keyboard. The worst part is that when it comes time to apply to a job, if an employer were to search your name, the voy forum and negative comments come up in the search result. It is not only embarrassing, but it is upsetting. I am so sorry that people took your sister’s courage and tried to tear her apart. If someone feels good by bashing others, the real problem lies within themselves.
    xo

  5. Rachel Berry

    Kristen,
    As someone who knows what it’s like to have been torn apart on those boards over 6 years of competing in MAO, a sincere thank you for standing up for what is right. It is sad what people are comfortable saying when they can hide behind the facade of anonymity. Praise God for those who know their identity in the eyes of the Father, and for those who don’t yet, I pray God touches their hearts and renews their hope in who HE has created them to be–masterpieces who can’t be touched by those hurtful words; masterpieces like your sister.

  6. Tiffany Ellison

    I’m so impressed with your response! How fantastic it is that women like you are speaking up and being examples of integrity and honor?! My daughter is 18 and newly competing in the USA system and I’m so grateful for your words and guidance. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  7. Fina

    I am proud that you had the courage to stand up and speak out for your sister. If we know something is wrong and do not speak up, then we are just as guilty. You and your sister need to remember one thing: cowards post hateful and mean things on social media because they are anonymous and there is no accountability. Let their words fall on deaf ears if they do not encourage or empower. Do not let them rent space in your brains. Remember, even when people say or do negative things against you, number one, they are thinking about you, and number two, they are jealous and want to be just like you. Stay beautiful and stay true to yourself.

  8. Andrew Alcalde

    Very amazing article, Kristen. I’ve been a pageant fan eversince I could remember and I started following pageant message boards since 1997. I can tell you that it wasn’t always this way. Boards used to be about discussing the delegates and cheering them on during their journey of winning their competitions. I would look to boards for pictures and to keep me updated on who was competing. But somehow, things changed for the worst. I’m a “Pageant Expert” on Missosology, and I pretty much lost interest in posting anything on that site, simply because there is so much hate going on in the pageantry world. But even more so, I also realized that a lot of the hateful comments had come from co-competitors trying to stir up insecurity-not just pageant “fans”. I 100% agree with your article. I think it is wise for pageant delegates to NOT visit these boards, because there will ALWAYS be someone out there that’s insecure and will hate on these young women. It’s an easy portal for those bashers to judge, because they can hide behind a computer screen. As for you, your sister and other delegates that you know who have been bashed by so called “fans”….keep your heads up high. These people are doing this on purpose with hopes that it will effect you and they are merely people, with nothing better to do than hurt others. By all means, it’s definitely not okay for bashing to occur, but at the end of the day it’s the people who know you inside and out, and love you that should matter most. Wishing you a wonderful holiday and hopefully your article sheds light onto those who are doing the bashing and will make them think twice about what they post.

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