She said YES!

(Featured image: Avito C.Dalan, Philippine News Agency)

-LAN TRUONG, Edmonton, AB

No…it’s not a wedding proposal.

No…it’s not Say Yes to the Dress.

But I’m willing to bet those fall along the same lines of the first thought that popped into your head when I quoted, “She said YES!”…but why?


Our society has typically groomed girls to strive only for perfection which fosters an environment where it is fearful to fail. Inspired by my own negative experience participating in a charity pageant, the toxic culture of beauty pageants needs to be addressed. How can we disprove unrealistic standards and expectations that destroy the development of positive self-image and confidence in the especially vulnerable demographic of junior high girls?


What if we could inspire the next generation of young females to not only believe in themselves, but create a legacy of shared passion, confidence, and determination for many generations to come?

I’m spending my summer planning and organizing a pageant-themed leadership conference for young junior high girls in the community titled The Beauty of the Brains Pageant. This one-day conference, projected to be hosted in the first week of October 2018, is an opportunity for young junior high girls to showcase their talents and skills, while also learning from successful women in our community. It will incorporate a performance portion, keynote speaker, and various workshops.

This event aims to address the toxic environment of pageants and unrealistic expectations that society perpetuates on females, emphasizing instead the importance of a strong foundation of self esteem, providing opportunities for personal and professional development, and maintaining community of support to instill confidence in these young girls.

But this project is no small feat.

I’ve come to learn that I’m probably the least qualified person to take on this event. A chemistry student with a dominant science background does not know the first thing about event planning or project management, but she’s willing to learn.

As far as stretch projects go, this one is stretchy! Here are some of my thoughts along the journey thus far:

May 8, 2018: I’ve been putting off the “things to do” related to Stretch. It’s been very difficult getting started and finding the motivation to put time and effort into a project that currently seems too big and intangible. It seems much easier now to have signed up and paid for a 6-week abroad volunteer trip, because everyday is planned for you and you get to travel!

May 23, 2018: I’ve finally made a schedule and it’s like a small sigh of relief. I feel a bit more on track, however there remains an insane amount of worries. Most pressing: volunteers. Nonetheless, I’m starting to get really excited about the workshops! Workshops like how to change a tire, money management, coding 101, self-defense, and stress & coping are just some of the ideas on the drawing board. 

What kind of workshops would YOU like to see in an event like this? Comment below!

June 12, 2018: Piloting an individual project, I’ve learned, gives you a whole lot of time to think. About everything. I’m trying really hard to transition from my mindset of “there’s so much to do, how will I do any of it” to “there’s so much to do, I’m going to do what I can”

June 22, 2018: At this point I have all the control over this project and it’s too much control. Everything is out of control. This is terrifying.

I guess I’ve always been in a position where if I don’t know something, I can refer to an authority figure who will deal with the problems. But now, I am that figure. I define all the definitions, and I’m not great at it. I’m so unsure of every decision I make, because what if it’s not the right one?

You know how people say in order to grow you must be uncomfortable? (You must do things you’ve never done before?) Yeah, I’m SUPER uncomfortable. I think that means it’s working…

June 26, 2018: Just had my first executive team kick-off meeting. Something I’ve struggled with immensely are the questions: Who are you to tell us what to do? Who is going to listen? Who is going to care? But something I’ve discovered throughout the first two months is that people do care. They care enough to take time out of their schedule to meet with me, to have a phone call, send a email, or have a conversation, miles more than I ever expected.

Saturday, June 30, 2018: I’m very much a visual learner myself and am a true supporter of “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but as I delve into a post for my project, I find I don’t have any 😦 My stretch project is definitely BTS (behind the scenes), so here’s a little sneak peak.

My desk! A typical setup for brainstorming, planning, organizing, and stressing.

I’d like to believe that if I had this experience during my junior high years, I would have gained more confidence to tackle my fears and goals more passionately and efficiently.

The Beauty of the Brains Pageant will give these girls an opportunity to develop tangible life skills, connect with leaders and like-minded peers, and develop a community who will support, challenge, and celebrate their goals with them as they grow.

I hope to challenge our young minds of today so that when faced with obstacles, opportunities, risks, and rewards we can be proud of our friends, wives, partners, mothers, aunts, grandmas, and sisters for what they’ve achieved, because she learned to be the captain of her own future and when given control of her destiny she said YES.


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