MCDERMOTT—Miss River Days candidate Grace Moore knows that high school can be a tough environment for cultivating healthy self-esteem. She herself sometimes struggled with the painful words of bullies as she grew up.
“Especially in high school, when some ‘friends’ become your enemies, they know all the ‘sweet spots’ [to bully with]. That was a big issue. Obviously, I can’t always overcome [insecurities], but I try my best to ignore it and to send positive energy back. I try to ‘kill them with kindness,’ I guess is the saying,” Moore said.
So when she learned that she would be representing Northwest High School as their River Days candidate, she was excited to offer other young women the chance to learn to love themselves a little more.
“I knew almost instantly what I was going to pick for my platform. I wanted something that was close to home, and that I can relate to. Also, something that I wanted to fix in my area. I know all of my friends have struggled with body image and things, and I definitely did. Almost every woman you talk to will say [that]. I knew that I wanted to help other girls my age, and other women in general.”
Moore’s platform, entitled “Be Your Own Queen,” seeks to promote a positive body image in women of all ages while enhancing their self-esteem.
“I chose ‘Be Your Own Queen’ obviously because River Days is a pageant, and that’s where the ‘queen’ part came in, but I think that instead of trying to be this curated image of someone else and trying to be this perfect person, I think you should be your own queen and that you should love yourself no matter what,” Moore said.
Moore’s Miss River Days campaign has so far implemented a boots on the ground approach to enhancing the self-esteem of the women and young people who she encounters. Moore finds it valuable to her message to practice the things that she preaches.
“I made a few Facebook posts and I overall tried to spread [the message] verbally, and to compliment other people whenever and however I can and reassure people that they are beautiful. Complimenting people in person has been my main thing because I’m trying to make a realistic approach and have a big impact in person.”
At Moore’s recent community service event which brought her platform’s message to the community, she utilized three speakers who all shared aspects of their journey to self love and acceptance.
Moore shared her own story as part of the event. She was also joined by mental health advocate and blogger Aliyah Ware, as well as Alandria Worthen—Moore’s cousin and a former Miss River Days contestant herself. The women shared struggles with body issues, eating disorders, and insecurity with bullying. Curvier women spoke of how they were bullied for their size, while women with skinner frames shared that they too had felt the toll of bullying over their physique. After stories were shared, Moore utilized a symbolic gesture in order to demonstrate the importance of releasing negative feelings and emotions toward oneself.
“We tried to reach every end of the spectrum with my speakers. Then after, we had Chinese paper lanterns and we wrote anything [the attendees] wanted to let go of: insecurities and things they just want to release in their life. Then we went outside and released the lanterns,” she said.
Moore worked hard to invite as many people as possible to the public event so that they could experience the cathartic nature of letting go of personal insecurities. She believes that her message resonates strongly with her community.
“I have had a lot of positive community feedback telling me that they’re so glad I’m doing this. I have everyone from teenage girls messaging me to tell me ‘thank you,’ to middle aged women telling me, ‘I really needed this. I wish something like this that happened when I was in school.’ I think everyone should be able to be happy and love themselves, and I think that that would solve a lot of problems if they would find their self love first,” Moore said.
When her Miss River Days journey comes to an end, Moore hopes to use her legacy to continue to show girls her age that they are more than what their insecurities dictate.
“When I was younger, I wanted to do River Days. But as I got a little bit older and the teasing started, I thought maybe I was too big, or not pretty enough to be Miss River Days. My goal is to show girls just like me when I was younger that you can do anything you set your mind to,” she said.
Follow Miss Northwest, Grace Moore, as well as the other Miss River Days candidates online at friendsofportsmouth.com/river-days-festival. The Portsmouth River Days Festival will take place from September 2 through September 4, 2022.