One of our Y Life missions is to spread LOVE throughout our generation, not hate. The topic of Bullying happens to be one of those things that truly pulls at our heartstrings. It’s hard to understand the effects of Bullying, especially if you have never been directly affected by it. It is a vile way of hurting someone, all the while, allowing a bully to feel as though their particular insecurities are being forgone, simply by using someone else, sometimes more vulnerable, as the scapegoat.
When we heard that one of the Miss Florida contestants was making Bullying her mission platform, we thought Y Not help her bring awareness too! As a recent graduate from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Marketing… The second we encountered Meagan we knew she would be the perfect voice to talk about her mission … Bullying!
“Miss Florida is a scholarship pageant and preliminary competition to Miss America. 48 girls are competing for the job as Miss Florida this week in a private interview, talent, evening gown, and on stage question. I fell in love with the pageant world after my first pageant four years ago – Miss Homestead.
At the time, I knew NOTHING about pageants, what Miss America was, or what the job as a titleholder would entail, but I did know there was a significant amount of scholarship involved for the winner – and even the girls who placed, so I threw on a pair of heels and gave it a try! I won that title, went on to Miss Florida in 2012 and placed top 10. From then on I was hooked. This year I’m returning after a 4 year hiatus as Miss City Beautiful, representing my Orlando community.”
What inspired you to make, ‘Bullying‘ your platform?
“My sister, Brianna, was severely bullied, both verbally and physically, several years back. My family and I had no idea anything was going on until my sister was finally confronted by her classmate in the stairwell and dragged down two flights of stairs by her hair. Her peers stood around in a circle, cheering on the aggressor as if it were some sort of spectator sport. Even after providing the school with security camera footage and seeing the marks on my sister’s back, Brianna’s Principal gave her bully a 10 day suspension (a mild punishment, in my opinion). As if that wasn’t bad enough, the video of my sister being bullied went viral on social media and her bully broke her suspension and attended school during that 10 day period, taunting my sister in class. The lack of urgency the school exhibited motivated me to take action and make this my platform.”
You have seen firsthand how ‘Bullying‘ can truly hurt someone and have rippling
effects on people for a very long time. I myself was affected by ‘Bullying‘ as
well, so I understand.
How do you try to convey the pain you saw within your sister to others who
may not understand the tribulations of ‘Bullying‘?
“Simple – put yourself in their shoes. Think about a time when a group of people were picking on you, and your best friend wasn’t sticking up for you, even though you did nothing to provoke them. Now imagine these people were physically harming you, verbally taunting you, and your best friend was cheering them on. It’s a humiliating, gut-wrenching feeling. No one likes to feel like they’re alone in a battle, especially in a situation similar to Brianna’s, which was so severe.”
Where would you like to see ‘Bullying‘ go in the next 5 years?
Personally, I would like to see Parents making an effort to constantly disengage
their children in hateful behavior… and to make it completely unacceptable.
“I agree. I think it starts at home. As a parent, it’s important to be aware of how you and your spouse are treating each other – do you show each other respect? Are your words encouraging, or judgmental? And when a child misbehaves, are they being appropriately punished and taught what’s right and what’s wrong? But once a child leaves their home and steps foot onto a school’s premises, it becomes the school officials’ jobs to reinforce this positive behavior and implement policies to combat destructive behavior. As Miss Florida, it would be my job to work with these school board officials to lay the foundation for policies that would accomplish this.”
As of recent Prince William and Catherine have not only encouraged internet companies to fight against online bullying, but they have been quite vocal about the subject matter.
Do you think having such voices speaking out about ‘Bullying‘ will help the conversation?
“From a young age I have detested bullying in all forms,” the Duke of Cambridge said while speaking at the Founders Forum, a technology conference. “As Catherine and I started our family a few years ago, I was alarmed by the increasing reports of online bullying that were making headlines around the world.”… “From the girls developing eating disorders after being subjected to a campaign of abuse on social media, to the teenage boys who took their own lives following constant targeting –- as a parent myself, I was appalled,” said William.
“Absolutely. It’s the responsibility of people in positions of power to influence the masses in a positive way. This is why it would be such a privilege to take on the job as Miss Florida – to have the support and resources of this organization behind me as I advocate for my platform across the state would be a phenomenal opportunity.”
Miss Florida is hosting a People’s Choice contest, where the public is able to vote for their favorite contestant ($1/vote) until June 30th and the contestant with the most votes will earn a spot in the top 11!
You can vote for “Meagan Cartaya” here: www.missfloridapeoplechoice.com
Also, you can follow her on Instagram, @meagaaa, for all the latest during Miss Florida!