Allow us a moment to say thank you — on behalf of our daughters — to Voices of Evangelism Church of God in Christ in Morven.
The church, which has a strong contingent of followers from Rockingham, sponsors a somewhat unique pageant for girls that focuses more on brains and fellowship than beauty and mascara, and we believe that is a very good thing.
Young ladies have such an impossible ideal to try to live up to these days.
The Barbie Doll ideal survives. Girls grow up peppered with messages that beauty is a commodity, a goal to reach, a status to achieve, that to not be beautiful is to be a failure. Physical beauty is stressed ad nauseam.
The endless onslaught of images they see in magazines, on television, on the Internet, and in racy store window displays — rail-thin supermodels, often with enhancement — deny the reality of true body shapes among the masses.
And while other major pageants for young women have tried plenty of ways to prove they aren’t just a gauge of physical beauty, the swimsuit competitions and high heels live on.
What a breath of fresh air is offered by Voices of Evangelism’s annual Ms. Excellence Scholarship Pageant, drawing young contestants from Richmond, Anson, Montgomery, and Guilford counties.
Participants work to raise money for the church ministry, and learn about self worth and developing a strong work ethic.
Rashawn Anna McLendon, 16, was the crowned Ms. Excellence 2012 and received the Alberta Ingram Memorial Scholarship of $1,ooo to further her education. She is the daughter of Billy and Phyllis McLendon of Morven.
The pageant was the culmination of a four-month program, during which the girls raised money, learned four different praise dances, and heard from a professional woman about self-esteem and hard work. The girls also got to take a trip to a water park for a day of fun and relaxation.
The idea for the Ms. Excellence pageant belongs to Lisa Morman. She said the pageant has grown into a program that “fosters self esteem and introduces them to professional women.”
This year the guest speaker was Von Kinloch, former television news producer at WSOC -TV Channel 9 in Charlotte, and current Bank of America’s VP Communications, Global Marketing/Corporate Affairs.
“She spoke about following your dreams regardless of obstacles — that was her theme,” said Morman. “She’s a breast cancer survivor.”
McLendon said she found the message helpful, and knows she can make her own future count. The young lady said she plans to attend community college for two years, then transfer to a larger university to study Sociology.
“I like helping people, and being raised in a church, I can tell people that God will help you,” said McLendon.
It’s also good to know there are people in our community looking out for young women as their dreams are taking shape.