July 2, 2014

Miss Bristol speaks out against anonymous online sniping

Liz Wong, this year's Miss Bristol, just posted an interesting piece on her Facebook page. I asked her if I could reprint it here and she gladly agreed. Give it a read:

First and foremost, thank you to those for supporting me and having my back on the boards and in life.

For those of you who know me, know that I am not one to stay quiet when something is not right. I will always stand up for others and myself. It does not matter whether or not I am “above” the cattiness or the immaturity or the jealousy. What matters is that it is not right and ultimately my character is being slandered by strangers who A) do not know me and B) do not have the courage to put their name to their hurtful words.
As I look back on my years as a pageant competitor, I look at all of the things I tried. I look at all the obstacles I have overcome. I look at all of the friends I’ve made. I look at all of the hearts I’ve touched. You know what’s sad? The things that still stand out on my journey, are the hurtful things that people have said and done to me on this journey to say, “no, Liz. You can’t”. So, this is my response to all of you that said I couldn’t.
You were wrong. Plain and simple. Because, I did. I did exactly what I set out to do. Before I explain what exactly that was, perhaps, I will set the story straight first. I did in fact work with my “dream team” and am proud of my performances both this year, last, and the year before. Yes, I have aged out but I did not go “guns out” this year. I used the same group of people as I did last year. I was just more vocal about thanking them and giving them the credit they deserved. Of course, I have had off and on nights. Of course, I am disappointed that I did not place this year. However, to imply that I was attempting to buy my way to the crown through coaching is not only hurtful but entirely inaccurate. Before any more people decide to criticize my performance perhaps you should get to know me and realize that my time on the Miss Connecticut stage and in the Miss America Organization was a struggle. I did in fact compete in Ohio in 2010. I have not admitted this to many people but I thought I would share it with you now…in 2010, my closing in my Miss Ohio interview was as follows:
“I want to thank you for giving your time to judge this incredible pool of contestants. I have spent the past week rooming with the most amazing woman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I have learned so much from her. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m not ready for the job of Miss Ohio. She has shown me that being Miss Ohio is much more than a crown and I’m just not ready for that right now. I am so humbled to be Miss Huron County and look forward to serving my community but I am not ready today to be a state titleholder because I’ve seen a girl who is ready and I hope to be THAT ready someday but that day is not today. Thank you”
Now, my roommate did not win, nor did she make the top 5 that year but she truly embodied what a state titleholder should be and I would have never forgiven myself if I had taken that opportunity from someone who truly deserved it. That year, was a rough one for me. I was “overweight” for the pageant world. I completely made up a word on stage for my on-stage question and I wore bright blue eye shadow.
Since 2010, I have lost over 40 lbs. I have survived an ACL tear and attempted (as many of you will never let me forget) a poor vocal performance. I'm aware that singing is not my true talent which is why I sought out Shea Sullivan to help me get over my apprehension regarding my ACL and to allow me to fall in love with dance again. I have only part of my hamstring because they used it for my surgery. If that's not enough of a feat to be proud of, I was born with a brain malformation that affects my balance. Try walking in swimsuit heels when some days you struggle standing. I have overcome more than anyone on those horrid purple boards could ever know and I hope next year he/she all thinks twice about the mean things he/she writes on there about other girls. People have no idea what our stories are and why we decide to compete.
I have given my whole heart to this organization. I was ready for the job but it wasn't meant to be. I am more than okay with that. If any of you actually watch Miss America the top 15 girls are rarely the best talents amongst the 53 so to imply that I would not have held my own is also highly inaccurate. I created some amazing relationships along the way and have been torn down by those that are too cowardly to put their name to their horribly mean posts. I have been called fat, "rain man", talentless, lacking style, that my gown was "ill-fitting", etc. This organization is not for tearing girls down. Every girl loses weight during pageant week because you are constantly on the move so yes my gown was a little loose this year. It happens. I'm proud to say that I never once dieted and that my body was pure hard work, regardless of whether or not you think it is a good one. I am leaving for law school this summer and for those of you that were curious earlier, I was more than prepared to defer.
In the future, I hope you don't hide behind your computer or bash girls behind their back and yet continue to be nice to them to their face. Instead reach out a hand and help those you feel need it. I am writing to merely set the record straight regarding my prep and to encourage everyone writing on those boards to think twice in the future. Each and every one of those girls has a story and they just want it to be heard. They want to touch the lives of others with their passion for a cause and this organization. Let them do that in peace. The world needs a little more light. It has been quite the journey in the Miss Connecticut Organization and I am proud of all that I and the other girls have accomplished.
In response to the particular thread regarding my prep I am uncertain why I was singled out but I can tell you that I leave with feelings of confusion, hurt, humiliation, and feeling attacked. This organization was a huge part of my life and I did nothing but try to better it and those that were involved. I stand with my head held high knowing that a crown does not make me a leader or an inspiration to others. I wish everyone within the organization the best of luck and I pray that it changes for the better.
To come full circle, I set out to make a difference. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those I met. I wanted to make a difference in my community. I wanted to stand for something bigger than me. I wanted to show everyone that you don’t have to be perfect to be inspiring. I wanted to show everyone that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I wanted to be a mentor to little girls. I wanted to show children, young adults, parents, the baby boomers, our elders, and everyone in between that they matter. I wanted to be the best role model I could be for my nephew. And I did all of that without a crown. Then I did it all again with the title of Miss Bristol. I could not be more proud of representing a town that has supported me in being “Liz”.
I look forward to my next journey and I hope that those that understand and believe in me will come along for the next ride. Thank you for letting me be “Liz”. Thank you for recognizing that being “Liz” is good enough.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

4 comments:

Darci McHenry said...

OMG Liz - literally before I saw this link on FB I had wanted to look your profile up and tell you how wonderful its been to watch you over the past couple of years and that i had you in 'my' top five... Those boards are ridiculous... Shine on as you always have.... I hope to see you out there doing what you do do best - being you.

Mrs. D. said...

Beautifully put Liz- good for,you! I have been involved in the Miss Ma program for for some 35 years...as a contestant, manager, coach, judge and general dogs body. I wouldn't trade my time in the pageant system for anything-- like you, the positives absolutely outweigh the few negative things. Thankfully, the online boards didn't exist when I competed.
You are a great representative of what makes the Miss America program wonderful, try to focus on the friends you've made and the life experience you'll take with you forever! Best of luck in your future endeavors!

Jan Weston said...

I met Liz last year when I was Mrs. Connecticut International. Since our first meeting at the American Heart Association luncheon I have been impressed with Liz' poise, confidence, and purpose. She has inspired me and certainly made me look at pageants differently than I had before I got involved. Participating in my first pageant at age 55 gives me a slightly different perspective than most. Now when I watch a pageant on TV I want to know more about the charity and community work that the contestants were involved in. How did they make a difference to others? I am proud to call Liz a friend and I hope that we will continue to be now that she is changing her course in life. We have no control over what others do or say, only over our own words and actions. Liz, hold your head high and know that you have touched the lives of so many in such a great way.

Linda Lubrico said...

Liz I am so proud of you. You are a wonderful, loving, talented, intelligent, classy, role model for all who know you. All I want to say is you are so above those people that comment on the anonymous boards. You have been a true asset to the Miss America Organization, to your family7 and friends, to the City of Bristol and to our organization you made us all proud. We are so happy to call you one of our girls. It has been a pleasure to get to know you and your family better this year. I know you will accomplish so much in your future. To all those people that write on the anonymous boards why don't you let us know who you are if you truly feel they way you do then you should not be ashamed to put your name to your post. Remember Liz and everyone else you know who you are and these people do not. You are a great role model to me and all the people you have touched in your 24 hears of life that is what matters not what someone writes on an anonymous Board. Love you Liz