Eww…Puke!

When I moved out to Los Angeles, it was a Friday. Although I didn’t plan it, the timing was perfect, my first full day spent in LA was a Saturday so I had a free day. I could run errands, and I could get together with friends…genius! I started my first morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, waking up at 7AM (my body clock was still on Midwest time). All I had to my name was all of my luggage, which was essentially just 60 lbs of shoes and a few outfits, and a bag of beef jerky.

I decided the early morning was the perfect time to run to the holy grail of essentials, Target, and pick up a few things to start my new life. Originally, I went to Target to find a desk… I left Target with a desk, several candles, a months supply of k-cups and food for the week. Score.

Walking outside I was over the moon excited. It was a sunny 65 degrees, there were bird chirping, I could see the Hollywood sign, I was finally where I’ve always dreamed of being. On the way to Target my phone wouldn’t pick up service so I was left to fend for myself. I didn’t even care. I’m in LA BABY!! It doesn’t get better.

My day continued as I set up my new room, clothes were put away, furniture was rearranged and this girl was ready to take on the California life. I had made plans with a few friends  for later in the evening and I could not have been more excited. I’m talking bursting at the seams, I just won Miss Wisconsin USA excited, plus some!

I began the evening with a friend from Chicago, Ashley, who happened to be spending a few weeks out in LA with her new modeling agency. The world fell in line, placing us both new to a city at the same time. It was such a blessing to have a little sense of home with me out here in la-la-land. Ashley and I are both a part of a Facebook group called “Girls Love Travel” which essentially connects gypsy souls from all over the world to share in their travel adventures and travel advice, it’s amazing. I was introduced to the group by a flight attendant friend, Savanna, from my Altoona HS days. Just days before moving to LA, Savanna tagged me in a post from a woman in the group who was living in LA was looking for a group of ladies to get together with as she was new-ish to town and just hadn’t “Found her people yet”. TALK ABOUT PERFECT TIMING. Ashley and I knew this was the perfect first night adventure and took advantage. We met the lovely group of ladies at this fantastic lounge – PUMP…if you’ve watched Vanderpump Rules, you know the place! We sipped on a martini while making friends with some powerful ladies. All things we love!

We bid adieu to the women of GLT and headed downtown to meet up with an old friend, Tate,  who I met through a gorgeous fellow Miss Wisconsin Teen USA contestant turned worldwide model extraordinaire, Sloan! Tate’s friend from high school, Jas, moved to LA just days before Ashley and I, so we were all getting together to be shown around by an expert. Talk about using connections to make connections, I was feeling so empowered throughout the day, I was working hard to make this new city my home and had surrounded myself with people who feel like family when family is so far away.  Advice break: You seriously never know when or how you will reconnect with someone so be thoughtful in every relationship that near or far, now those people are your people and someday that may matter. More on that coming up in future blogs

The four of us spent a bit of time in Tate’s apartment before heading downstairs to walk the streets of downtown and grab a bite to eat. Immediately when we got downstairs, I started to feel blah. I assumed it was from the lack of sleep I had gotten over the past week combined with the busy day I had prior to us meeting up, but shook it off! I’m in LA for the first night, there is no time for sickness, not today! We got to this great Chinese restaurant and I ordered a basic, teriyaki chicken. Before the food even arrived, I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it..what is going on?!? We wrapped up at dinner, I left my meal practically untouched, anyone who knows me knows that is so uncommon and slightly alarming. The crew was hoping to head out dancing and we headed upstairs to hangout before going to bust a move. As we arrived up to the apartment, I knew I couldn’t stay. I was disappointed that this queasy feeling was going to ruin my first night in the city, but I knew that there would be many Saturday’s to come and I needed to get home. Ashley and I ordered and Lyft and we were off.

From downtown to my apartment was about 25 minutes, I was sending positive vibes my own way, just a hop-skip-and-a-jump and I’d be in the comfort of my own room in my own bed. It was not 3 seconds into this thought that I was leaning out the window of this Lyft on the 101…puking…yuck! As it happened, many thoughts ran through my head. 1. Eww, this is horrifying. 2. What a memorable first day in Los Angeles. 3. Aren’t California people mean? OMG this Lyft driver is going to give us a terrible review and charge us some outlandish amount for cleaning. To my pleasant surprise, the Lyft driver was super cool and understanding to the unfortunate situation. We were able to get him money for a carwash and I was able to get home with no other casualties.

This moment was a great lesson for me. Sometimes when all you want is to celebrate monumental life moments, you end up vomiting out a car window on the highway…but really, you can’t control your life but you can embrace it, be thankful and find the humor in YOUR life. This could’ve been a terrible start to my new adventure, but instead it was a great story and a fantastic reminder of what matters. I am grateful for good friends who make sure you get home safe, even after they have to watch you throw up. I am grateful for kind people who make a new city seem less scary. I am grateful for going out and chasing my dream, even if the start of the journey went differently than I’d hoped.

And to that Lyft driver, when I land my first movie deal, I promise you endless car washes…

Dream Big,

Sky

Just Life: A Drop

“It’s a drop in the bucket”

This is a phrase that is used in my house more often than not. Whenever I’m worked up about an exam, a boy, a bad haircut, or being in a bikini on national television, my dad always reminds me that each of these moments is just a “drop in the bucket”. A perfect sentiment that each day is simply one drop, you are never adding more than that to what will eventually become a full bucket of ups and downs, and well…a full life that will have been shaped by each and every day that you’ve lived. Leave it to Jeff Witte to turn major meltdowns into really good teaching lessons.

Well today marks one of my favorite drops in my collective bucket, my graduation from college. 1285 days ago, I arrived on the UW-Madison campus sick to my stomach with nerves, and totally clueless what my college years would bring. Little did I know! If you’ve followed my journey you know it’s been a really wild ride.

I began this journey as a poli-sci major, thinking I would go off to law school and that my high school modeling days were simply a really fun and glamorous phase. I ate pulled pork sandwiches from the dining hall like they were going out of style and became OBSESSED with the limited edition Gyro slice from Ian’s. I met and reconnected with some of the most amazing people this world has ever seen. And I learned that nobody really has it figured out, but college is your place to explore and take advantage of any opportunity you can possibly find. Looking back my biggest life philosophy came from my college experience, take the chance, take the leap of faith, jump in. The worst thing that will come out of it is that you learn to build your wings or your net on the way down and I have built plenty the last several years. Sometime I flew and sometimes I fell, but either way I was ready.

Over the next two and a half years I learned many of my greatest lessons, and most of them had nothing to do with Pre-Constitution Law…

I learned to know when to ask for help. This day would never have happened if it wasn’t for the incredible team behind me every step of the way. My family never stopped believing I could “do it all”, even on the days when I thought for sure my head would explode. Whether it was a pep talk, a home cooked meal, a text reminder, or simply a word of encouragement, I always had someone to lean on.

I learned that the most important thing in life is honesty. I remember sitting on the couch, the day after I won Miss Wisconsin USA, only one week into the first semester of my second year of school, and not even knowing where to start. Well I started first with a block of cheese, yum, and then proceeded to email each of my professors and the Dean of Students office saying “this just happened, and I have no idea how I’m going to make this school thing work”. That week I waffled a million times between taking a break from school or just juggling. I wanted experience all the opportunities being Miss Wisconsin USA would afford me but I wanted to get the most from my college experience. My greatest fear was in trying to accomplish both I would ultimately fail at both and end up disappointed. I remained honest throughout the school year about my stresses, successes, and crazy ass schedule and managed to not only stay in school full time while prepping for Miss USA, but do so while maintaining a respectable GPA and with an entire campus staff cheering me on after taking my final exams two weeks early to “do the thing”! The amount of support I received from the UW-Madison community while I was at Miss USA will forever be one of the highlights of my life. Madison is a big school and people accomplish great things every day there, but for one moment in time, I was the Badger of the moment and I am so proud and so honored to have had that opportunity. It was a ‘golden drop’ if you will or should I say ‘red drop’ in the bucket.

I learned that you can’t do it all. You might have to give up being a double major or making the dean’s list and readjust your goals. For me, graduating became the focus and the perfectionist in me needed to let go of the rest. Flexibility is the key to making any plan work for you. I was great at preaching to middle school students as Miss Wisconsin USA to set a large goal and then smaller goals to get there. Sometimes that means focusing your energy in different ways. Sometimes it means letting go of a lot of other things to make it happen. One thing I am not great at, is saying no. Throughout my college experience I learned that sometimes, simply for your mental sanity, you need to say no.

I learned where my priorities lie. Even if means sleeping on a couch or driving odd hours of the day, you have to make time for the people you love and the people who love you. I also learned that distance isn’t real, I mean it is real of course, but not by meaningful relationship standards. If you are in the same room or a thousand miles away you can still love big and still be present. You can still give support and you can still seek it, regardless of the space between you.

Most importantly, I learned that everyday is a chance to learn, to make mistakes, to take chances. Nothing in life is perfect, nothing in life works out exactly how you thought it would. But if you work hard and trust the process, anything is possible. Bringing back the old saying “The sky really is the limit” I wouldn’t trade these past three and a half years for anything. Thanks to college, “found myself”, or at least was able to work on who I want to be.

I am so happy to say that I am officially one B.A. woman…Bachelor of Arts in Communications that is. So excited to begin the next series of drops….

Dream Big,
Sky

Just Life: Leading

Today I had a very unique opportunity, I was invited back to a middle school where last year as Miss Wisconsin USA I presented my ‘Sky’s the Limit’ program. Now, granted I gave up the crown 6 months ago, they still wanted me to come and this time around I discovered it was very different. It was a reminder to me what the saying ‘Always wear your invisible crown.’ really means.  It was a reminder to me that people watch, pay attention and living to inspire is sometimes not a conscious choice but it should be.

The same middle school girls who maybe knew a little about the Miss USA program and a little about me last year, knew everything about me this time around. They had all been glued to their TV’s last May and well before watching every post and picture. They all continue to follow my life journey. They watched the recent NYFW show online, they followed my Insta Stories on my recent trip to Disney. They watch, they listen and they care. And that my friends is an overwhelming thing to think about. So today I had to ask myself the hard questions. Am I worth caring about? Someday when I have a child, would I want them to look up to someone like me?

The answer is difficult, because I know I am not perfect. I know that I have been struggling to engage in college and just desperately want it to be done. I know that I have off days and am crabby, lately they seem to have multiplied.  I question things I shouldn’t and worry about, things I can’t control. I know that my confidence has wavered more than it should recently. I know that as a human being I have a lot of room to grow.

I am not perfect, but I am always myself.

All of that being said today I had to opportunity to talk to a group about leadership and was simply reminded being a leader isn’t about being perfect. It is about making choices you are proud of, working hard, encouraging people and living a life that brings others joy. It is about sharing yourself in the most authentic and genuine way possible. It is about admitting your flaws and accepting them. It is about working continuously to make yourself and those around you better. It is OK to question everything, but leaders have faith in their abilities and faith that it will all work out.

I love that I had this opportunity today, not for that leadership group but for myself. It was the motivation I needed to remind myself of the things I already know.  My pageant days are over but I hope to live a life that continues to inspire and I hope that my words will be able to have an impact on these amazing students!

Please read my other blogs for middle school students, this is my favorite age group to write about:

Just Life:Being Respected

Just Life: A Letter to My 10 year old self

Just Life: Mean Girls and Middle School

Just Life: Instagram vs. Reality

 

Dream Big,

Skylar

 

Just Life: Have Room

The past few months have been a whirlwind. I joined a Student Org, have been working a part-time communications position, traveling (more than ever), modeling, and continuing to be involved in “pageant-land” (in a much less bikini-on-live-TV kind of way). Oh, and I am taking 6 courses at UW-Madison! Whew!

I often get asked “how do you do it”? This question is a really multi-layered one, much of my energy comes from loving what I do, but I think the main motivation behind keeping myself moving is allowing myself to have room for the good, the bad, and every little thing in between.

Have room…

To fail. I am one of the biggest perfectionists you will meet, I always want to give 110% to everything I do and lately that “everything” has turned into the most magical yet overwhelming mix of things. My biggest successes in life have come from moments of “failure”, or missed opportunities.

Have room…

For weakness. With the world so full of blessings, it’s OK that your soul (or smile) doesn’t shine it’s brightest every single day. Take a break, cry, call your mom. Recent conversations with my Miss USA sisters have reminded me that everyone experiences moments of weakness or self-doubt, and each person experiences those feelings in different ways. Just because you have a moment of weakness does not mean that you are weak.

Have room…

For other people’s successes. THIS IS A BIG ONE, and probably the most important. I’m going to relate this to pageantry, however I feel the lesson is applicable always. When the crown is placed on another woman’s head, it can feel so easy to go into a negative place. Why wasn’t it me? Why was it her? I worked so hard, I deserve this. Change your narrative! Share in the excitement, feel honored to have had the chance to share in another woman’s success, and remember that everything happens for a reason. Jealousy is so ugly, and can cause for a heavy weight to be carried around. Have room for more successes than just your own.

Have room…

To enjoy your life. Put your phone down, grab your BFF and have a girls night! I have been making a habit of making sure I set aside one night every week to “just relax”. It involves me doing a bit of extra work every other day, but it is so worth it when you spend a night, stress free, at a comedy show with your best girl, or get to do sheet masks with your momma! Find time to make time to enjoy being present!

Your mental health is EVERYTHING! With everything going on lately, I have found that the one way I keep myself most “sane” is to allow myself ALL the emotions, even if they involve tears. Have room to feel overwhelmed, but above all have room to be happy!

Dream Big,

Skylar

Just Life: Instagram versus Reality

Sometimes, but very rarely, all aspects of my life collide in wonderful unison. After writing my last article, I was feeling extremely inspired to get back to what I love doing – using my voice in inspire young women. As Miss Wisconsin USA I was able to get into schools and talk about my program “Sky’s the Limit”, but since I gave up my title I have been striving to find a way to keep that motivation going. For a final project in one of my communications courses, we were asked to identify a place where we feel there is a “lack of media literacy” and implement (or imagine implementing) a program to bridge that gap.

Here is where the worlds tie together…

For my class project and, quite honestly, my new life project I have created a campaign called “Instagram versus Reality” – #IGVReality. Social media is so new in this world, but also so influential. There is no current education for young women about the pressures they may face on social media to feel “perfect”. Years ago, body image and confidence was shaken by the covers of magazines or a commercial on TV. Young women today face those pressures on top of the pressures each time they open their Instagram app. Social media makes it so difficult to tell what is reality.

I am not saying that when we post on Instagram it isn’t the reality of our lives. I never fabricate images on my Instagram to make it seem like something it is not. However, I will be the first to admit that my feed is filled with my best photos. Not the pictures of me in bed with a clay face mask typing this blog, but the photos of me smiling with my Miss USA sisters or the most recent dynamite photo from a recent shoot with the slew of talented folks I have the privilege of working with. These people get paid to be talented hair and make-up artists, stylist and amazing photographers who are trained in editing images. The pictures are all me, but they are the best possible edited and airbrushed version of me possible. And frankly to the little girls out there watching, that’s not fair. Angles and poses, lighting and filters all just social media tools used to perfect the imperfect. For once let’s embrace the imperfect!

My goal is to have people share photos and stories of their “Instagram versus Reality” and change the way young women feel when they use the app. It’s important to be able to embrace our imperfections, sometimes even laugh at them. Although the goal of this is to remove some of the pressures that young women feel, I think that each person who chooses to participate will experience a sense of lifted pressures!

There are two ways to be a part of the movement:

  1. Post 2 photos on Instagram. The first photo being the picture that you would share on Instagram and the second being the reality behind the photo. The great angle versus the not so great angle, the family picture that hangs on the wall versus the reality of what taking a family photo looks like.
  2. Post one photo on Instagram sharing the story behind it. This can be a funny story about the looks of judgement you received from the man sitting next to you on the plane as you took 25 selfies or the raw emotions behind a photo.

The most important thing is that you use the hashtag: #IGVReality and nominate as many friends as you wish. Also you will be helping my group actually implement a project which we all feel is worth standing behind.

Pick whatever photos you would like and get as deep (or not) as your choose! I look forward to spreading positivity with the help of each and every one of you.

 

Dream Big,

Sky

Style Life: Online Shopping Edition

I am not a fashion or beauty blogger but lately I’ve decided maybe I should be! I have definitive opinions on stuff I love and stuff I hate.  When I was still a pageant queen (recently retired) people would ask me almost every day about my make-up routine or what brand of lipstick I was sporting or  where I got my dress. Now those questions are a little fewer and far between but still occur, if or when I’m wearing lipstick at all. So the following is my Skylar Witte 2017 list of clothing websites I can’t live without and why:

So my favorite sites are two I can rarely afford on my college girl budget but if you can……DO IT! http://www.revolve.com and http://www.shopbop.com, the latter is Madison, Wisconsin based! Whoop whoop. Both are amazing for current, fashion forward designer fare. I love them and both sites are completely splurge worthy. Great customer service, easy returns and high quality almost always guaranteed! I have been obsessing over this Nicholas lace dress for weeks and trying to justify why I would need a $700 dress to wear to my International Law lecture…alas, no excuse, and now it just keeps popping up in my Facebook feed…why you gotta do me like that Facebook marketing algorithm …WHY?

For my pageant peeps reading this right now who are far from retirement…someone wear this in interview, please and thank you!

Azalia dress

Next up in the mid-range category are http://www.shopakira.com and http://www.zara.com both discovered out of necessity when I was searching for appearance wear last year. So quick side-story.  I purchased no less than 4 potential interview outfits for Miss USA. I had one custom-made, purchased a few back-ups and simply couldn’t decide, by the way they all had their fabulous features. Turns out I ended up wearing none of them.  While in NYC I had purchased these cute culottes and matching shirt at Zara (not a jumpsuit, which everyone thought) and wore it to a prep session with my directors who immediately fell in love and ta-da my interview ensemble was born. It was actually very blush but looks a little more baby pink in photos. I loved it and was so happy it was my final look for interview.

Interview USA

Finally my go to site: http://www.us.boohoo.com, Ok here is where the review gets honest, half of my Miss USA wardrobe came from this site and much of it was under $20! But if I’m being forthright, which I always am, the stuff is hit or miss. Sizing is sometimes off and sometimes the material is not super high quality. But all and all it’s super trendy and super inexpensive. They do 60% off sales on a regular basis, stay on top of this site…I always have a wish list going and just purchase when the sale hits. Be cautious sales items are often not included so sometimes it’s less expensive to buy their new arrivals. Win and win. This company based in England ships to the US for a mere $6…so yeah there is that. This is where I go when I know I will only wear it once or it might not make it past one season. For example capes, rompers, chunk heels and bodysuits might not be in for 2018 so this is where I purchase all my fun stuff. Check out the below hits from my boohoo purchases (the white dress that made my dad blush, the super fun harem jumpsuit and the wild bell-sleeved floral romper):

Boohoo118493017_10211523489136802_943781454_o18664284_1514618578590920_44491604833250390_n

Then there was this little cranberry number worn to a fraternity formal in Texas last year….it was basically a swimsuit with panels but man let me tell you this dress got more attention than most $15 purchases (that’s right $15) warrant. It stood it’s own among girls in designer couture….it also sparked the love of this halter look which became my signature for Miss USA….note the similarities to another gown you may remember which was a little more on the HIGH END of high end. That of course is the gown that will forever by my favorite piece of clothing to ever exist. Mac Duggal does it up a little better.

22528299_10159463169150273_4586483477072756449_n

06-03-2017 SKYLAR WITTE 0646 WEB

Speaking of which any website that sells Mac Duggal ranks high on my list, although this is one area where I would never suggest you go online to make a purchase. Pageant gowns, cocktail dresses, prom dresses, bridal gowns all should be tried on and purchased from an authorized retailer.  Trust me there are things you can’t buy online. There are items you must try on in real-life. It makes me sad to hear horror stories about knock-off gowns and expensive custom gowns ordered that come in too small or completely unlike the girl thought they would.  Try it on people.

So those are the secrets, I don’t have many. Next week I will tackle a few make-up and skincare items. I am not working for any of these websites (except Mac Duggal of course)  If you want more, let me know by either commenting on this blog or on my FB (by the way have you followed my public page yet on Facebook?!?)  This is a new arena but if you are interested I will write. As always!

Dream Big

Skylar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Life: Grounded

Someone the other day asked me the “secret” to staying true to myself, even when the world around me is moving so quickly. Even when you are just weeks away from the ‘big show’.   I don’t know if I have a secret, but I do have some methods.

Say thank you:  This is the most important and quite frankly the easiest. Never stop saying thank you and never stop being grateful. Thank the woman who is giving you your morning coffee, something that keeps you running through the day. Thank your parents, let them know that you appreciate them and all they do for you. Thank the people who put up with your madness, my roomie Sav fits this bill. Right now I find myself thanking sponsors and my directors on almost a daily basis for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. Never forget to say THANK YOU!

Remember the struggles: This year I have chosen to talk to middle school students, because frankly it was the most difficult and uncertain time of my life. For almost everyone it was the period in life when you lose the idealism of your elementary school days and start to realize that it is a lot harder to become Hannah Montana than one would think. All our crazy dreams start to get beat down, the awkwardness and growing pains means everyone becomes competitive, girls and boys forget how to speak to one another and support each other and all of the reality of life starts to set in. It is the time when most kids stop with the big dreams and they start to look like fairytales; unachievable and ridiculous.  Add to that literal growing-up, the braces, the bullying and in my particular case  dealing with actual life….My entire middle school experience included living with and watching my grandmother slowly lose her battle with cancer. REALITY SUCKS. Don’t forget the struggle, don’t forget how it felt when your life was less than perfect, don’t forget what made you, YOU! Embrace it because it will keep you focused on your dreams.

Set achievable goals and then make it happen: This one is near and dear to my heart. This year I did not set out to “Become Miss USA or even to walk in New York Fashion Week” two monumental goals that frankly I have no actual control over. Judges will decide if I am the right woman for the job on May 14th and a designer had to pick me from thousands of model hopefuls. But I did set achievable goals to prepare myself for these things to happen. My physical preparation is all on me. Everyday getting up, hitting the gym, eating clean, all the trainers in the world can’t make your body ready for a competition or to walk a runway… if you don’t do the work. A series of small fitness goals and a plan that is achievable and realistic. Building a modeling portfolio and network of industry professionals all done with a series of small, systematic goals. I did set a goal of being the best Miss Wisconsin USA once I was crowned. For me that meant making a lot of appearances, promoting my state, promoting my #skysthelimit philosophy to every school that would let me in the door, promoting the Miss Universe Organization and just working really hard all day, every single day for the 365 days I am fortunate enough to wear the crown and sash.  This method works for almost all big dreams. Break it down and make it happen.

Just recently I watched film of JJ Watt (NFL rock star and Wisconsinite) returning to thank his 4th grade teacher for believing in his Badger/NFL dreams.  Even in 4th grade JJ knew his end goal but to get there every day he worked on the small things, every day focused and committed. Plus, he never lost sight of the people who helped make it happen, and even at the height of his career is gracious and thankful!

Don’t let anyone else define you: The hardest of all my suggestions…really hard when you are 13-18 years old, still hard when you are an adult. I am currently putting myself in the position to be ‘judged’ by the world. The harshest kind of judgment, the kind that will come in a bikini, in front of a LOT of people. The kind that will come with such quotes from viewers at home and even online like, “Oh Wisconsin is hideous!” “Not my pick” “Hate that girl” seriously those things will be said about not just me but every contestant by someone somewhere in the world. But here is my reality….NO ONE ELSE DEFINES ME! No ones judgment of me on a single day or in a single moment will be the foundation for how I live my life or the goals I am able to accomplish. This whole experience is a drop in the bucket of my life.

My middle school visits almost always circle to this place where a sweet girl or boy connects with me afterward and talks about someone mistreating them. And we almost always have a discussion about not allowing someone to define you. No one is allowed to tell you your dreams are too big, your passions, your ability to achieve, no one knows what is in your heart and no one has the right to take what is away from you.

This is how through the craziness and through what I will likely remember as some pretty big defining moments in my life, I have never lost sight of Skylar Witte. The girl, the middle school girl uncertain, scared and sad…the woman walking the runway in New York, same person….always stay grounded in who you are.

Dream Big, Skylar

New York Fashion Week February 2017

 

 

Miss Wisconsin USA Life: Top 5

“Your Miss Wisconsin USA 2017 is Skylar Witte”

6 months ago, this one sentenced changed my life. Over the past 6 months I have grown more as a person than I could ever have imagined.

I knew going into the Miss Wisconsin USA competition that there were many things I wanted to do if I had the honor of being crowned. I didn’t realize just how many amazing opportunities having this title would afford me and just how much fun I was going to have. Every appearance I do is different and every appearance has brought the greatest memories, but I thought to commemorate this 6 month anniversary I would share my top 5 favorite memories so far.

5. When my 9 year old cousin Eva wrote a story for class titled “When My Cousin Became Famous”. Becoming a role model for so many young people across the state is an honor that I am thankful for every day, but being able to be a role model for my two sweet cousins is a cherry on top. The story was just as adorable as you would imagine, she walked her class through the whole pageant. Reliving the best moment of my life through her words was such a sweet reminder that winning this title did not just impact me, but so many of the people who love me.

4. Singing the National Anthem at WACPC State Dance. This particular appearance was special for multiple reasons. At every middle school visit I do, I share the same story about the first time I sang the National Anthem at an Altoona High School hockey game. The story ends in me forgetting the words, utter humiliation, and using all the gumption I could muster to go back the next week and try again.   I thought while in that moment I would never sing the National Anthem for an audience again. Although I have sang the anthem since, this appearance made me especially proud, I had never given up. I also was so honored to have been invited because just two years ago I had won D1 State Pom Championship with the DC Everest Dance Team in that exact same spot. To be back on the floor as a representative of the state and cheering for my team, was such a surreal feeling.

3. The UW Homecoming Parade. Being a Badger makes me so proud, and has since the day I got my acceptance email. The parade for me was extra special, it was the first time I got to meet Chancellor Blank.  It felt transcendent because she came up to me and knew who I was. After I had won she had sent me a congratulatory email. I assumed it was from some assistant and doubted the Chancellor really took the time to reach out, I was wrong! My mom got a photo of me “fan girl-ing”. Anyone who knows me, knows that me being overly excited for pretty much anything isn’t new. At this appearance I also got to see Miss Wisconsin, Courtney Pelot, who represented Wisconsin at the Miss America pageant.  I had the pleasure of meeting Courtney when she was a local title holder and remember thinking, “that girl is the next Miss Wisconsin.” I watched the whole live stream of her state pageant and definitely cried when she was crowned. Courtney is a graduate of UW Madison, so getting to catch up with her and share a love for the greatest University on earth was fantastic. Thousands of people lined my favorite street in  Wisconsin, State Street and I threw out candy while trying to choke back tears. Footage from me in the parade was on ESPN during the game. There is no way I could ever explained how honored I am to have the opportunity to be Miss Wisconsin USA and in this moment, I was so overwhelmed with gratefulness.

2. My trip to Colorado to watch the Miss Colorado USA state pageant. This particular state pageant was the first time I got to spend any long amount of time with Miss Wisconsin Teen USA, Abby Bryson, and her mom, Lisa, after our crowning. Lisa was kind enough to let me stay with them since I was coming to Colorado alone. This trip was my favorite trip ever because I realized I had gained a lifelong friend and sister. We spent the trip laughing, eating lots of breakfast food, and realizing that we had so much in common that we really should just be best friends, and that’s exactly what happened. Pageants are always talked about as a sisterhood, and I am so lucky to have not only gained a sister, but to have gained a second family.

1. My favorite memory of the past 6 months was the day that I found my gown for Miss USA. I will attempt to tell this story in a condensed version:

I have had the privilege to work with the talented Mac Duggal for just over a year, after attending an open call looking for new models.  It has been the best job a girl could ask for. When I was crowned Miss Wisconsin USA, Mac and I started talking ideas for my perfect gown. I spent months giving his team countless ideas, nothing that I thought could actually be combined into a perfect dress, it was all over the place and a little unique. Every time I was there or working for the company we would all talk a little more about it.  At one point while visiting the Mac offices I had viewed a sketch of something being worked on and was pretty excited it sure looked like it had elements of my dream gown.  When it came time to picking a gown at our pageant prep week,  I was shopping with my directors, my mom and aunt trying on all sorts of new dresses from Mac’s collection. I loved them all, but there was nothing that screamed “THIS IS THE DRESS”. A gown was pulled for me that hadn’t been on the rack when I originally walked in the room. Immediately after getting zipped I liked what I was seeing and the gown fit like nothing I had ever tried on, perfectly. As I walked out of the dressing room and saw myself in the mirror, the tears came automatically. It was the. most. perfect. gown I had ever laid eyes on. Antoinette, the design teams Pageant Coordinator had Mac on FaceTime to tell me that he had designed this dress from his new collection specifically for me, rushed a sample so it would make it to the gown selection and it was the exact vision and culmination of what I pictured myself wearing on the Miss USA stage. Cinderella moment in real life.  The color was also hand-selected and the only completely unexpected surprise from my original dream…but the color is what makes this dress work on every level and that’s why the Mac Duggal team is the best, they just know and they definitely know me and what works for my style, personality and body!!! Turns out almost everyone in the room knew what was going to happen, but our sweetest volunteer Carol wasn’t even aware she had grabbed the gown, when I started sobbing she was panicked thinking I had just fallen in love with the wrong dress. Thankfully for Carol the sneaky plan worked out even better than imagined.  It was the most extraordinary moment, and one that I will never forget. I wish we had video taped the whole crazy thing, but for those who got to live in that moment with me I’m sure no one will forget it.  I cannot wait for everyone to see this masterpiece on the Miss USA stage. I am not revealing anything more  but if I could describe my gown in two words, they would be  SIMPLE DRAMA! (yep that will get you wondering)

To say that this has been the best 6 months of my life would be an extreme understatement. I still don’t think it’s all really sunk in, but I do know that each moment I am thankful and feel so lucky to be representing this great state. Thank you everyone for your support so far, here’s to the next 6 months! Miss USA here I come.

Dream Big,

Skylar

Miss Wisconsin USA Life: The Best You

I think the biggest myth in pageantry is that in order to win you must fit a certain mold. You have to wear a white dress, or have perfect pageant curls. The girl who spends the most has the best chances or you must give the judges the answer that you think that want to hear. If I have learned anything in my preparation for Miss Wisconsin USA and now Miss USA it’s that the one way to take yourself out of the running for the crown is to try and be something you are not.

When I was preparing for the Miss Wisconsin USA competition I had lots of input on lots of different things. What colors to wear, how to wear my hair and do my makeup, which swimsuit fit my body the best, and strangely enough…how to answer questions about myself. Weird! I loved that input and I listened to that input and it helped me sort through what I was and what I wasn’t, but at the end of the day I took it for what is was, someone else’s thoughts on pageantry, life and me.

It would have been so easy to fall into a trap of comparison. What did the top 5 wear last year? What have the past 5 winners done with their hair? What “story” has been most compelling in the past? What did someone else answer in their top 5 that sealed the deal?  And I think it happens all the time, in all sorts of industries, that women start to play the comparison game and feel they need to become somebody else in order to find success. NEVER NEVER NEVER!

Let’s be perfectly frank, creating a fake version of yourself is a game you will have to continue to play. I have literally watched women create versions of themselves so outlandish that they become lost in their own creation. So focused on maintaining the façade they no longer remember who they are, what matters to them and what they really have a passion for.

I decided very early on in my preparation that the way I was going to win was to be completely sure of who I was, and if it wasn’t this year it would happen when it was supposed to happen. I needed to know myself inside and out. As I’m sure you all know at this point, I love to write and that’s exactly what I did. I wrote about myself, what I loved, what I didn’t necessarily love, how I felt about issues in my life, how I felt about issues in the world and when I walked into the interview room I knew Skylar Witte from head-to-toe. (Novel about the minutiae of my life forthcoming)

When it came to being on stage, knowing who I was gave me the confidence I needed to rock my secondhand bikini with my six inch heels. I did not spend thousands of dollars on a gown or an opening number outfit. I was fortunate that my wardrobe was sponsored by designers and fellow pageant friends. (That’s the blessings of relationships and a whole different blog) It worked for me because I loved every piece of it, just look at my face, this coral spoke to me. Not because anything was custom or the fact I wore red gown or because I wore a coral jumpsuit with gold accents to interview.

People often ask me, “what was going through your head when you were walking on stage?” As goofy as it sounds, I just kept saying over and over “I am Skylar Witte, I am Skylar Witte”, and I was so excited to let the judges see ME.

So to break some pageant myths. White doesn’t always win, the color, price and style of the gown doesn’t make a difference, it’s the woman in the gown and how she graces the stage. You don’t need to ever be someone different in an interview.  You don’t need to always be pushing a created agenda.  Sometimes the judges ask the questions you have rehearsed in your head a million times, but often they simply do not.  My state interview was filled with laughs about my distaste for kale (for real, not a fan) and how my dad and I do a mean rendition of “Fergilicious”! When I walked out of that room I felt so confident that those 6 strangers now knew who I was, and that was because I knew who I was.

I want to take some time to tell every young woman out there who feels she needs to be someone else, that the very best person you could ever be in this world is YOU!! When you find confidence in who you are, it changes your world. There isn’t a secret to ‘winning’ a pageant or ‘winning’ at life. Life is all about constantly learning and growing, but when you choose to start learning more about you everything and everyone that surrounds you will gain clarity.

Dream Big,

Skylar

Just Life: Being Respected

I recently had the most real conversation of my reign as Miss Wisconsin USA with two girls who must have been in the 7th or 8th grade. I was visiting a middle school to give one of my usual presentations about setting goals, living your dreams and choosing to be positive at an age where bullying just seems easier. Afterwards, in the lunch room these two bright-eyed beauties approached me and presented me a question I had never been asked…but boy, did it get me thinking.

Why is it that you are so beautiful and all the boys in our school listened to you and were so respectful of you when you were talking, they were calm and kind, no one made rude comments  but to us they are always disrespectful and sometimes just mean?

And immediately, just like that, in a split second I was thrust back to middle school myself, there is a reason I talk to this age group and this was it. Suddenly my life advice could mean something. So I sat up straight and launched into my brief but hopefully lasting rant.

I was treated the same way, most girls in middle school are! Is it right? No. Is it OK? No. Is it part of everyone growing up and learning to build friendships and relationship? YES. Is it likely a boys way of getting a girls attention? 100% YES… but do you have to accept rudeness and mockery and cruelty? NO.NEVER.NOT EVEN ONE TIME!

So I told the girls to stand-tall, be strong and never let a boys words or actions get the best of them. I explained how even though it is easy to cry, to be cruel back or to simply go and tell on a someone for being disrespectful, the best course of action you can take is to not allow it in your life. Like all things hurtful or mean, the effect of the action is only meaningful if it elicits a response that the tormentor was seeking. I shared the story of being booed once at a pep assembly by a large group of nasty boys because I had recently broken up with one of their friends. I felt like running from the gymnasium but I didn’t, I did my part with a smile on my face and simply kept going. Once a boy was a jerk to me and I didn’t speak to him for a good three years, until he grew out of this unfortunate-jerky-phase. That is not a scientific phase of puberty but I believe it exists. He came around and later apologized for all the mistreatment when we were younger.

It is hard advice…not allowing your feelings to be hurt is a nearly impossible task, but choosing to not allow someone the satisfaction of slowly beating down your self-confidence is a necessity, in middle school and well beyond.

I told them that being that strong brings with it a new set of challenges. People will call you cold, snotty and much worse. People, especially mean ones hate to be ignored. But in the end the right people (and in the case of dating, the right boy) will rise to the surface. When you are older and have gone through all of the growing pains, those boys will start to respect your strength, your conviction and your independence. They are the people you will want in your life.

Dream Big,

Skylar