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Acceptable ME promotes female self-image positivity

Social impact initiative created by Miss Maine contestant from Camden
By Susan Mustapich | Apr 06, 2021
Photo by: Susan Costa Shannon Hopkins, of Camden, created Acceptable ME as a contestant for the Miss Maine 2021 title.

A young woman from Camden has created a social impact initiative, Acceptable ME, that in her words, "stands up against societal norms to break stereotypes based on weight, body image and diet culture in today's society."

Shannon Hopkins, who won Miss Congeniality and was crowned 2019 Maine Wild Blueberry Queen, created Acceptable ME, as part of her competition for the Miss Maine 2021 title, June 16-19.

Hopkins describes her initiative as "leading the way for all individuals in today’s society fighting to be accepted for the way they are whether 'short,' 'tall,' 'big,' or 'small.'" The initiative helps "them stand up against society stating that they can be accepted for themselves and be treated with respect while being authentic to themselves."

Through this initiative, she is also seeking to partner with local businesses in Maine, in order to raise funds for scholarships given out by Miss Maine and Miss America foundations. Miss America USA is the parent organization for Miss Maine.

A social initiative pitch and fundraising are both part of the Miss Maine competition. Each contestant is given the goal of raising $250. Hopkins, who has already raised three times that amount, has set her goal at $1,000.

She has support from Camden and Rockport businesses High Mountain Hall and Adventure Advertising for an April 10 body-positivity photoshoot and fundraiser Acceptable ME is hosting.

The women-only event promotes "breaking out of your comfort zone, being bold, and most importantly being yourself." It is for "all body types, all ages allowed and for all comfort levels motto." All comfort levels means those attending can wear anything they feel comfortable in for the photoshoot, from bathing suits, to lingerie to tees shirts and jeans, Hopkins said.

The cost for the fundraising event is $50, and includes a t-shirt made by Adventure Advertising, all edited group photos, and access to activities at the event. Net proceeds raised go to Miss Maine scholarships.

Acceptable ME is also very connected to who Hopkins is, and her decision to compete for Miss Maine.

Miss America and its state competitions have changed since 2019, to a focus on interviews, a talent competition, inclusivity and educational scholarships.

While most people think of Miss America as a swimsuit competition, that is no longer true of the new, Miss America 2.0, Hopkins explained.

Even so, Hopkins' decision to compete for Miss Maine did not come easily.

Competing for Wild Blueberry Queen, a smaller, local event, was one thing. Her decision to enter the Miss Maine competition took more time.

Knowing Miss Maine has never had a plus size candidate, a thought that held her back at first was "nobody wanted me, a plus size girl as Miss Maine."

"After a long time of waiting I finally decided to take the leap. It doesn’t matter what I look like," she said.

Leading up to creating Acceptable ME, Hopkins interviewed over 200 women in the community and throughout the state, asking questions such as: what was one thing that held you back because of something someone said about your body?

She realized she had to do something, not just for herself, but for others, she said.  This meant pushing herself out of her comfort zone and facing fears of being made fun of and laughed at.

It meant she herself would represent Acceptable ME "for individuals who are too afraid to be themselves."

Hopkin's talent is speed painting. She is excited about her talent presentation for the Miss Maine competition, though she cannot reveal the details.

Hopkins is a 2015 Camden Hills graduate. She is the first in her family to attend college, and graduated in 2018 from Southern Maine Community College. In 2019, she began a dental hygiene degree at The University of Maine at Augusta. She is currently on a waitlist to for the dental clinic at The University of Maine, which only accepts 12 students each year.

For more information on Hopkin's Acceptable ME and details for the April 10 fundraiser for Miss Main scholarships, visit Acceptable ME on Facebook and Instagram.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Apr 07, 2021 07:43


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