Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Every now and then you come across people who want to beat you up and slow you down. One busy day, the week after I was crowned I was running around to appearances, interviews, and meetings (not to mention finalizing my senior thesis on Biblical and Quaranic Interpretations of a Woman's Right to Vote and Hold Office). During one of those crazy days I zoomed onto campus in my Miss Vermont T-shirt to grab my mail from our campus mailroom and a wrap from our student center. I saw several friends and peers while on this ten minute jaunt in between Miss Vermont meetings. I have since heard that a peer of mine was blabbing to a group of friends that I was arrogant after having been crowned...his only evidence...because I was wearing my Miss Vermont T-shirt "all around campus". Luckily I have the confidence (mistake it for arrogance if you are unsure of the difference) to laugh something like that off.

What reminded me of this little story was a blog post I read this evening. The blog entry was a response to the "Strolling of the Heifers" parade I went to in Brattleboro a few weeks ago. The portion of the blog which pertains to me had a photo of me waving to the crowd and the caption read...

"Hey look, it’s Miss Vermont, Ashley Wheeler, sitting on a bale of hay! She looked a lot better when she was crowned.
Sometimes I wonder if these girls know the hardships of the job – I may be off base, but it looks like it’s taking a toll on her.
From her own blog, “I am not sure exactly what to expect but I am certain cows will be ’strolling’ down main street. I am contemplating dressing in black and white as to blend in with the heifers.”
I mean, I wouldn’t really like to go for a hay ride all dressed up. Would you? And is it just me or is it really stupid to wear white when you know you’re going to be sitting in a rusty trailer filled with a bunch of hay? Apparently, she didn’t know.
Really though, can a parade really be called a parade without at least one beauty queen swiveling her forearm like the real Queen?"

I know I will not be able (or want) to respond to every negative thing written, said, or thought about me...and why would I? I don't want to give the negativity any more focus then it has already. However, tonight when I saw that blog I thought I am going to say something just this once. I think it is important to all little girls who look up to young women such as myself to know that there are bitter and sad people in this world who like to poke fun at others and try to make accomplished people feel bad for the goals they have reached and for going after the goals they aspire to achieve.

In direct response to the words in the aforementined blog I will say that I had a great time at the Strolling of the Heifers. I met a lot of wonderfully friendly and giving people-- people like Charlie Robb who graciously gave of his time and resources to pull me behind his John Deere tractor and so fitting of Vermont made a thrown for me out of hay barrels. I had never met Charlie Robb before that day but I am glad I did. His gracious and altruistic demeanor epitomizes a true Vermonter. I arrived in Brattleboro fully prepared to walk the parade route in my black pants and white jacket to celebate the importance of agriculture in this state. I was lucky to have "a rusty old trailer filled with a bunch of hay." That's Vermont folks and that is the state I am proud to represent.

On the day in question I went to the parade that morning after being in Barre for a parade the night before and sped to Saint Johnsbury for the Relay for Life walk just after. I did three appearances in three different corners of the state in 24 hours. I do "know the hardships of [this] job" and so far the only hardship I have come across while holding this job is hearing false, negative, ramble about an organization and position that is many times misunderstood.

Today i received an e-mail from a mother whose daughter I met and shared a few minutes with after the parade in Brattleboro that day. She was requesting an autograph card and thanking me for being such a positive role model for her daughter. That is what this year is about and that is why I am proud to be the "Beauty queen swiveling [my] arm like the real Queen."

To the author of this post I hope you find validation in your own life so you can stop seeking it from trying to take it away from others. I also encourage you to learn about the history of the Miss America Organization. Hopefully then you will realize that the young women who join in the pursuit of becoming the next Miss America do so for personal and professional development, scholarships for education, and to have a voice to advocate for a cause that is close to her heart. When I read your post only 54 people had also done so. That is 54 people who may have walked away from reading it with a negative impression about the Miss Vermont Schoalrship Organization...that is why I felt compelled this evening to respond.

As always thank you to everyone who is a true friend and has always supported me in all my endeavors. There are many more great times and memories to come. Stay close.

Love and Blessings,

1 comment:

Brainy said...

Hi Ashley!
Just read your comments from a few weeks ago on my blog and felt that I should respond (as well as edit my original post.)

You, very understandably, misunderstood the direction of my post and for that, I am truly sorry. It wasn't meant as an attack on you or even towards you.

What I was trying to point out was that the hectic schedule the pageant winners are put on often has them running from place to place without ever actually really knowing where you're going -- and that's a shame.

In the Brattleboro instance, I believe that had you known that you were going to be sitting among the hay behind Charlie Robb's tractor, you probably would have chosen a different outfit. Perhaps I'm incorrect.

I think it's totally cool that you planned on black and white to go with the whole cow theme -- really, that's great! But it's too bad that you're put in the position of having to walk into these appearances blindly.

I see it all the time in my line of work -- the pageant winners arrive dressed to the nines only to find out that they're expected to do a three-legged race with terminally ill children, or participate in a pie eating contest or, no joke, they're supposed to do an hour in a dunk tank for charity.

All too often, the girls are completely unaware until, like you said, they arrive. That's not a potshot at you -- it's a potshot at the, well, I don't know exactly -- whichever organization is booking your appearances and passing the information (or lack of) on to you.

As for your attacks towards me, I won't let them bother me because I'm certain that you haven't read much more than that one post on my site and that's fine. Reversing roles, I won't read another word of my site either.

My accomplishments are mainly financial and my topics regularly detail my financial successes and occasional failures. I realize that that's not for everyone.

But I'm not trying to take anything away from *your* accomplishments -- though very different from my own.

If I were your father or brother, I'd be very proud of your being named Miss Vermont. That's big deal. No doubt about it, you're among a select few and that is definitely something to hold your head up high about.

And really, I don't even see a problem with wearing the t-shirt on campus. I'd wear it too -- you earned it. Now wearing the sash around town when not at events, well, that might be pushing it! ;)

But in the end, I just wanted to say that I'm sorry.