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3 Reasons I Entered a Pageant as a Woman With Dystonia

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I’ve always known life to be a struggle. Dystonia has always shook my body to the point of waiting to give up. It’s a constant fight to keep going. To say “You can do it!”

A week in half ago, I spontaneously decided I wanted to be in a pageant, despite having thoughts like, the girl whose body has involuntary movements in a pageant? But I entered knowing it was going to be yet another challenge. I decided to take that risk.

Self-introductions were up first. I was really going to model my outfit while speaking out loud? It wasn’t too late to back out, but I knew this was something I needed to do for myself and for the world. I had no clue what to expect. This was my first pageant ever.

It was a challenge for my body, but it was a challenge I was willing to face head on.

As interviews quickly approached, I became really nervous. I was getting ready to be judged by three different people. Was dystonia going to allow me to get my words out? Let alone sit still? I decided, you know what? This is part of me. Be yourself! I did just that, and the judges were so encouraging. I came out feeling more confident in my decision to do this.

Next came theme outfit wear; I chose a skirt, shirt and high heels. No talking was involved, but from the moment I walked in the room, I was being judged. My prayer was simple. I wanted the judges to see me for who I was, win or lose.

Chelsi Christman

It was evening gown wear next. As I stood outside in line waiting to go in, a little girl came up to me and wrapped her arms around me. She looked up at me and said, “You’re really pretty!”

I did this pageant for three reasons:

1.To show others with disabilities that just because we may struggle more, it doesn’t define us or stop us from being beautiful and able.

2. I needed to show my preschoolers that you never give up. That life is messy sometimes and maybe unfair, but I believe through Jesus we can do anything we put our hearts towards.

3. And thirdly, I wanted to give God glory through this. Whatever the outcome may be.

I was next up. Modeling my evening gown, I never felt so special in my life. I never went to prom in high school for fear of dystonia being too embarrassing. I believed this was my time to shine through Christ.

Awards were next. Nervously waiting, I told myself, “You did this! Your kids were the inspiration behind this whole thing. Win or lose, you did this with dystonia!” Next thing I knew, they called my name. “In second place, Chelsi Christman,” placing a beautiful tiara on my head and a sash that said in big lettering “State Finalist.” In that moment, I was so proud of how far I’ve come, but now I have even further to go.

I turn around to the same little girl who said in the sweetest voice, “Can I have your autograph? I just love you!” Wrapping her arms around me again, I signed “I love you!” and my name.

On the way home, I thought about this experience. As a 24-year-old, I forget others are watching, and they watch how you deal with life’s struggles, such as when my body decides to shake and twitch so much that my speech is almost impossible to understand.

Here’s what I have to say. Go for yours dreams, big or small. It matters because you matter. When the world around you says, “You can’t,” show them you can!

Originally published: January 29, 2016
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