Fashion

New York Fashion Week Fall 2018

NYFW 2018 BODY SHAMING EXPERIENCE…

Flashback: January 2018. I am sitting at my parents kitchen counter when I receive an email inviting me to attend Sherri Hill’s NYFW show in NYC. I convinced my dad to let me go on this once in a lifetime trip, after comparing it to the Super Bowl. Heck, NYFW is like the Super Bowl of fashion right?! Little did I know, that very fall I would be walking in a NYFW show!

Friday, September 7, 2018: I enter Gotham Hall in NYC where the Sherri Hill NYFW fall show will take place. Surrounded many young women, bare faced, thin, and breathtakingly beautiful facially, as well as skilled hair and makeup professionals and countless beautiful dresses. I enjoyed meeting fellow Miss Universe sister, Catriona Gray, Miss Universe Philippines. After getting our hair and makeup done and walking through a rehearsal on the runway – all in our adorable Sherri Hill robes – we got dressed for the live show. I had some friends in the audience and family watching the livestream from home. Backstage was more intimidating than Miss USA, I had never walked on a fashion runway, I am used to being and selling myself – not a particular dress. Josie Canseco was readily available to guide my end-of-runway pose and encourage me to simply “feel myself.”

I walked off stage invigorated and excited to do it again! To close the show, we all rewalked the runway in line. It was powerful. My mind was full, “I cannot believe I am walking in this show right now. I used to scroll through SherriHill.com and try to do my hair like these models. Wow. This is real life.”

Before catching up with some girlfriends, I went to my apartment to change and drop off goodies from the show. I also opened Instagram, to my spirit’s demise. All the while I was feeling on top of the world, that very world was smashing me on social media. I was shocked. My spirit was torn. I felt ashamed. People were calling me fat, huge, a disgrace, a pig. I wanted Sherri Hill and the Miss Universe Organization to be proud – how could they possibly be with these types of remarks all over social media?

When one of my best friends read the body shaming I had been experiencing, she let me know I wasn’t alone — she explained that many celebrities we look up to are constantly critiqued and shamed on their looks and body types. Many former Miss USA sisters also encouraged me that they, too, were brunt by this same horrible, yet regular behavior. I’m here, as Miss USA AND as Sarah Rose Summers, to say I will not stand for women being criticized for what others THINK we should look like. I don’t want to see anyone ridiculed like this. This hate and cyber bullying needs to be addressed. I am grateful to have an amazing support system and be a strong young woman who believes to my core that I am perfectly made in His image. However, there are many men and women out there facing similar hate or even being impacted by the comments on my feed. Little girls who follow @missusa see those horrific comments. These are just a few examples of where self esteem issues and distorted ideals of a beauty come from. Eating disorders are the number one fatal mental illness in the US. Nearly 1 person dies every hour and the average age is 18-25-years-old.

Instead of being so critical of ourselves and each other, why not focus on the positives and be each other’s encouragers and supporters? How sad is it to think that there has been more chatter about my body than my recent humanitarian award I won from Celebrity Page in honor of being a female who’s making a difference through charity work?! Thank you to those who have supported me and joined this conversation, including former Miss USA’s and many of my 2018 Miss USA state sisters.

Please remember being hateful takes just as much, if not even more, energy as it does to be kind.