I don’t think we’re born with insecurities, I think the world introduces them to us.
The moment I lost my confidence in how I looked
I developed my first insecurity the spring of 7th grade when a woman pulled me outside of my church pew. I thought she was going to ask me to join the children’s choir, but instead she said “I know what you’re going through, anorexia is tough to beat.” ANOREXIA?
In 7th grade I didn’t even know what the word meant, or what the condition was. Nor did I have any idea that others may have thought I looked unhealthy.
This was the first time I thought there was something wrong with the way I looked.
I was a naturally petite child. Up until that point, I was just a healthy, fun kid, running races in the street with boys, eating Mac N’ Cheese, ice cream, and spoonfuls of peanut butter—with no idea my body was seen as “too skinny” to others.
When I think back to that woman in church, I feel robbed of a confidence that I built before she released her unwanted opinion. It makes me sad to think how this impacted me, and how many others are impacted by the naive, unwarranted judgement of others.
How dare the world tell me how I should feel, how I should look, or what they think is wrong with me.
It took me years to get back my body confidence I lost that one day in church
It took years for me to develop body confidence in a way that I wanted to define:
- it’s not about reaching a number on a scale
- fitting into 00 size pants
- cutting sugar
- or having the world tell you that you look beautiful
My journey hasn't been easy. I spent 9 years as a runner - rail thin and not happy with the way I looked because I felt I was “too skinny.”
I would eat pie by the pan, pasta, and embraced unhealthy dietary methods to try to “pack on pounds” because I wanted to gain weight so bad.
I wanted to have curves and feel “womanly.”
I hated being a 20-year-old in a 14 year-old’s body.
How do you beat a world that works you so hard to make you feel insecure?
The negative influences and stigmas are everywhere.
Consistently you hear unwanted opinions, see ads online, Instagram models with photoshopped standards of beauty, or hear that “men want women who have curves.”
But all of these "opinions" come from exterior sources, not interior.
After years of watching influencers, going to work out classes, and reading motivational quotes on Instagram—nothing resonated with me, nothing helped me feel confidence from within.
Pageantry was the turning point on my road to self confidence and recovering what they woman took from me all those years ago
This may seem like a juxtaposition—pageantry helping to gain body confidence when you are being judged by your looks and measured next to dozens of other women?
I’m with you. For years I felt the same way.
That is until I competed in my first-ever pageant in 2016 at MISS OHIO USA on a complete whim, no prior experience, and only one workout under my belt.
I took a chance. I took a leap. I bought into it all.
By standing on a stage with like-minded women of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds, I realized we all had one goal in mind: to embrace our individuality, confidence, and self-worth in order to radiate and fulfill our dream of becoming MISS OHIO USA.
Crazy right!? ...well, not really when you dig a bit deeper.
This is when I realized the power of pageantry - a process designed not to crown a winner, but create dozens of winners in your OWN life.
In 2016, I decided I would make healthy decisions for my life, eat better, build muscle, and work out. I no longer wanted to be “skinny,” I wanted to look as strong as I felt on the inside.
From the damage of that woman's words, rose a stronger, more confident woman
Seems crazy to think it took almost 13 years to build back the confidence I had before that woman walked up to me in church and called me anorexic.
Seems crazy to think a simple comment can cause so much damage.
But, that’s how damaging it is to attack others' bodies.
And it sometimes takes being knocked down to light a fire inside of you and start a journey you didn’t even know you needed to go on.
I went on to have a 3 year pageant career. 4 competitions later, I went from a two-time Top 15 finisher, to 4th Runner-up, winner of the “Best in Swimsuit” award, and to runner-up at MISS CALIFORNIA USA in January 2020.
What this journey has taught me
This journey hasn't been easy, but it has made me stronger. I have met amazing friends, learned more about myself than I thought possible, and know that whatever life throws at me in the future that I am strong enough to grow from it!
I owe my growth and confidence to 3 things:
- Creating a method of accountability by partnering with people and brands I trust (like Propello Life and Body By Craig) to sculpt a body that reached my personal definition of beauty. Learning to say no to unhealthy habits, people, and carving out time to make it to the gym in the same way I carve out meetings for work.
- Learning to embrace how my body is and what is in my control. I will always be petite. I will always be short. And that is okay; that is enough. I was able to compete against dozens of women on a MISS USA level stage as a 5’2 woman because my confidence exuded that of someone who was 6-foot.
- Cultivating a healthy life I can be proud of that doesn’t exclude me from having fun. Now that I’m past my pageant “career” I’m stepping into a new chapter I am unfamiliar with—living life without a competition ahead of me. I’m learning that the point is to LIVE life, not live for Instagram photos. You can indulge in your favorite foods and enjoy your favorite moments, just create balance and don’t be hard on yourself after.
In a world that works to make you insecure, empower your children with confidence, radiate the belief that you are better than what you see online, and redefine what health is for your own standards.
Whether you’re standing onstage in a butterfly cape or keeping up with your toddler who is running in the kitchen— the world needs more people confident in their own skin, believing in their bodies, and knowing they are worth it.
And trust me - both Propello Life and Body By Craig have been amazing positive influences on my journey.
About the Author:
Kellie Hall - First Runner-Up at MISS CALIFORNIA USA & Navy Lieutenant
- Follow Kellie on Instagram at: @KellieReneHall
Special Thanks to @bodybyCraig and @Propellolife for your belief in my abilities!