“They did not see the real beauty, yet again.”
The fan-created meme was shared by Miss Georgia Lara Yan on her Instagram story shortly after Miss Philippines Catriona Gray was crowned as Miss Universe 2018.
In an interview weeks before the Miss Universe competition, Lara Yan also voiced: “After having seen photos of other contestants, I will tell you honestly, out of 88 contestants I only liked ten, the rest of them I could not even rank”.
I know casual fans of pageants often imagine that there’s a “dog eat dog” type of atmosphere behind the scenes of beauty pageants. They assume that every contestant is a saboteur looking for her chance to diss, destroy or minimize others.
And that is the public notion I wish we as women can help reject.
As a two-time Miss Georgia title holder myself (Miss Georgia 1995 runner up and Miss Georgia 1996), I have heard my fair share of cutting words and comments that struck below the belt from competitors. I’ve had my patent leather high heels magically disappear from my dressing room minutes before stepping on stage for the swimsuit part of the competition at Miss Georgia 1995. The agony was real!
Thankfully, any critique and negativity I’d encounter during my pageant days, I chalked it up to, “there is always going to be opposition,” and quickly glossed over it.
Miss Georgia Universe 2018 Lara Yan
But now, I take Miss Georgia’s public afront much more seriously, as a woman, as a human and as a Georgian.
Miss Universe is an opportunity and a global platform for women to become a voice for a positive change in the world and in their own communities. For this reason, contestants are judged on much more than just their physical appearance (believe it or not). Winners are selected largely by who they are in the world.
Miss Universe 2018 crowning
Every nation stands on values that are the most defining and most important for them as a people. Women sent to participate in Miss Universe aren’t there just to represent themselves, but to represent their respective countries and embody values which their nation stands on.
For Georgia, those values are Generosity, Hospitality and Honor - even when it’s inconvenient, difficult, or the situation seems unfair.
As a collective, Georgians are relentless with their generosity; it’s in the fabric of our being. In Georgia, hospitality is valued more than any other quality, skill or a trait, surpassing courage and even reputation. Honor and respect of others is not just a custom in Georgia, it’s social currency. And for women of Georgia, grace, courage and inner class are what constitute true beauty.
Lara Yan (formally Larissa Petrosyan), this year’s Miss Universe representative from Georgia, is of Armenian descent. To me, her responsibility to bring forth the qualities and values of Georgian women on a global platform such as Miss Universe is even higher. Throwing shade and being dismissive of other contestants is a poor representation of Georgia.
Lara may have represented herself at Miss Universe, but she truly mis-represented Georgia.
Aside from patriotism or virtue, there is a deeper level of awareness we as women must create within ourselves and in the world around us.
While we fight for equality and work so hard to break gender barriers, female competitiveness and comparison is an ill-conceived war that keeps us in the battle longer.
Tearing each other down only keeps us marginalized and powerless as women. When we as women are busy fighting amongst ourselves, we can not see out, affect change in the world and claim the power that is ours. When we as women tear each other down, none of us win.
When we compete with each other, we are actually competing with ourselves. We look at other women and see a prettier, smarter, better version of ourselves. We don't see other women at all. It unnerves us to see in other women what we have squashed in ourselves, and we take the easy road of turning against them.
Only when we have long signed out of our own dreams and ambitions do we not wholeheartedly support other women in theirs. We criticize, attack and try to undercut other women in direct proportion of how harshly we treat ourselves, deny our own potential and judge our imperfections.
We can not claim our power from this place of unworthiness and fear.
We can only start truly seeing other women when we give ourselves permission to work on becoming the women we ourselves long to be. When we start respecting our own dreams, we have agency to support and celebrate other women who do, too.
If we want to change the culture to where women are not valued only by comparison, we need to be active participants of that change. There is nothing stronger and more beautiful than women who refuse to be set against each other. We have to show the world that thinking less of another woman next to us is not a compliment to any of us.
Whether it’s in beauty pageants or outside of them, a win for some of us is a win for all of us.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."