Last summer, I was in San Diego with my family. While everyone was passed out in our hotel room, I was still wide awake and decided to pass the time with a little TV. Nothing seemed to be on and somehow, I ended up on the Miss. California pageant. As I watching the last few contestants give their interviews, there was one particular brunette who caught my attention. She was so thoughtful during her speech. There was a vibe that screamed out "bad ass" despite her polished and poised demeanor among her other contestants . Being the age we are in, I immediately popped onto Instagram to see if she had a handle. Low and behold, there she was. I was picking up what she was putting down-a lover of Disney, sarcastic, self-empowered, super tattooed, and sticking her tongue out to a crowd of nay-sayers in a rainbow sequined dress. She liked Lizzo, had a killer split leap and she seemed like a blast. I sent her a DM a few days later letting her know that I really enjoyed her performance and her platform on self-love. Imagine my surprise when she followed me back and wrote me, thanking me for my kind words in addition to taking the time to reach out to her.
Over the next few weeks, I started thinking about this project and how I wanted to do something during my down time in the season between Christmas and Easter. I usually slow down quite a bit photography-wise and I wondered what I could do to keep myself busy. Then I thought of it.
International Women's Day.
I would do a series of interviews and lifestyle sessions that gave 31 different women a platform to be elevated and appreciated for their own individual strengths. I reached out to Molly-Not only did she say yes, but she literally jumped at the chance to be involved. I was so excited. Here was a complete stranger who was trusting in an idea that I conjured up out of thin air and was seemingly just as excited as I was. When we met for her interview, I was quite taken with how well spoken she was in addition to her whirlwind of a outfit change-she was on her way to be trophy hander-outer at an awards show.
(Yes. That is a technical term for that job. IF you were wondering. :).
A few months later, we would meet for her shoot. I wanted her to showcase what made her feel most confident. I had the idea for her to wear a flowy purple something. She poured over Amazon and sent me tons of photos of things she found and decided to choose dance for her session. Once again, I was blown away at her abilities during the shoot and even, after. Her technique in addition to the skirt she wore possessed the ability to make you feel her motion as you view the photographs. In addition to capturing this beauty, I was fortunate enough to have made a new friend. Thank you for your outspoken strength, Molly. Keep on reading that astrology and killin' the life game.
What is your name and how do we know each other?
Molly Aincelee Crawford and we met through Instagram.
How old are you?
What are you currently doing with yourself?
I am currently a full time marketing and operations assistant with Mirus promotions...and finishing my last capstone class to finish my undergrad at SDSU. The diploma comes in January.
Are you where you hoped you would be? If not/ Why? If so-what do you love about it and could you see yourself doing anything else?
7 year old me says, "Not so much" but is impressed. One of my favorite mantras is ‘It’s not a race’. It took a bit longer to finish my undergrad but I continuously remind myself with this mantra.
One of the biggest things to me is learning not to compare myself to everyone else’s highlight reel. Instagram came on to the scene when I was a junior in high school. It made me accept the fact that I’m not where I thought I would be at 25 but I wouldn’t trade for where I am.
Women are becoming a resilient sound that cannot be silenced. What are you doing to contribute that sound?
I can’t bullet point any specifics because a lot of what I do seems to be self-serving, particularly through the lens of the Miss. America system. I’m really passionate about giving back. It is important in being a part of my community and volunteering in different places that I wouldn’t have found or that I would feel I wouldn't be good enough to be a part of without the Miss. America organization. As vapid or shallow as it might seem, I compete in pageants and I am local titleholder. I champion different social impact initiatives-focusing on body positivity and respect. I am passionate about giving back, whether it be on a small or large scale. I consider myself a role model to young girls rather than contributing to womanhood as a whole. My focus is on people I can relate to, because I have been there before.
What is something you learned from a younger age that has stuck with you?
Skills sets-Academically as well as professionally from being a competitive dancer. I had to figure out at ages 5, 6, 7 and all the way up until I started teaching, how to manage my school work and manage dancing 6 hours a day, 5 days a week....This was all the while having energy to participate in other things I wanted to do. I tried violin, basketball-but all roads lead back to dance. I really attribute more adult decisions back to competitive dancing and being 15 minutes early as being on time. Time management is one of the biggest things.
Who is an individual who made a profound impact on you and why?
At a very young age of 5, I watched "Singing in The Rain". That’s when I knew I wanted to be a dancer. I loved Gene Kelley. I tried to mirror my performances after his methods due to my admiration of his skills and athleticism. When I began to eventually take classes, I'd have to say my dance teacher-Mary Ann. Her methods were wild and old school. She taught me how to love dance, how to respect dance. She came to my 9th birthday which was a Hawaiian bowling party. Years later, I found a bowling pin from that party when I was helping my mom clean out the house that Mary Ann had written 'Keep Dancing' on. At that time in my life, I was a crossroads. Her words inspired me to keep dancing and one of my tattoos.
What is a weakness or something that exposes your vulnerability and what do you do to combat/embrace it in order to grow?
I was diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic disorder at 16. I was described as overtly sensitive but for so long I think it was due to the fact that my mind was waging a war on myself. I eventually became brave enough to make my platform- body positivity. I wrote a children’s book embracing everyone’s differences and honoring that which makes us different
What is something that you want to accomplish and what are you doing to get to that place, if anything?
School kicked my ass because I attend the 6th school in the nation for PR. They have really high standards. I have never cared about something so much. Having a masters degree is something that I have a strong desire to achieve. There will be a requirement to call me “Master Molls” when that time finally comes.
And now..a few questions to lighten the mood...
Dogs or Cats?
Both-but I’m allergic to cats.
Cheeseburgers or Salad?
Protein style double double
Beach or Mountains?
Sweet or Salty?
50 50..depends on the kind of sweet.
Lose all of your old memories or never make new ones?
Lose ‘em all . I love where I came from, but I am surrounded by people who help me to reflect.
Disney..or is there any alternative?
No. (We share a LOVE of Disney)
What is a fun fact that someone may not know about you?
I have a salt and pepper collection. Oh! Another thing is that my family and I used to re-enact the civil war when I was growing up.
And the final two important questions...
What is a common misconception about you that people make based on your appearance? What is your truth and how do you personify strength?
People will tell me that they loved me from the second they met me or that they were very intimidated before that got to know me. I want to be involved in the media in a way that I know I make a difference. As a form of personal branding, I am super transparent. I don’t use filters and use the first quote that comes to mind. I try to be genuine on social media and took a career/academic path where I feel I can make a difference where the most people are going to see it.
You have inspired me. What about yourself do you hope to put out in order to inspire other young people?
I am trying to inspire young people by knowing what my brain is capable of but not limiting it to things that I’ve done my entire life. I want to take myself as human further than I ever thought and be public about it.