Monday, September 12, 2011

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover”

Maybe not all of us but quite a few people are familiar with the American Proverb “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover.” This is a very pertinent statement, particularly when meeting new people for the first time. Personally, I enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories, however I have learned that there is often much more to each person than what appears at the surface.  At an appearance recently, I was reminded of why it is so important to not assume things about other people before you have had a chance to get to know them.  

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in an event featuring Mission 21 in Rochester, Minnesota. Mission 21 is a women’s shelter that takes in women who have been victims of human trafficking. As I have said before and will continue to remind people, human trafficking is the second largest leading criminal industry in the world and we do not want it to become the first leading criminal industry. At the event, my job consisted of helping with the Not For Sale Campaign’s booth by handing out information and informing people about human trafficking and working the arts and crafts area. It was so great to see so many diverse people of all different ages coming together for this one cause. 

While at the event, I talked to many different people but it was one girl in particular who made a significant impact on my life that day. A young girl, very full of life, came up to the Not For Sale Campaign’s booth and started asking me questions about my crown and what it was like to be a beauty queen. She then proceeded to tell me how she has always wanted to compete in a pageant and dreamed of being a beauty queen. I told her that if this was something she has always wanted to do she needed to do it, whether it is a year from now or five years down the road. 

As the event was nearing towards the end, an adult woman came up to the booth to collect some of the handouts we had available regarding human trafficking. She had an extreme interest in the topic and proceeded to say that her daughter had been sexually assaulted by another girl who was younger than her. Anytime I hear that news my heart sinks and I want to help, the ironic part about this story was that her daughter who had been sexually abused turned out to be the little girl I had talked to earlier who wanted to be a beauty queen. 

To be honest, I know nothing else about the situation besides what I was told that day. However, when I met that little girl I could have assumed that something was wrong with her but instead I treated her how she deserved to be treated, with respect. If I would have known she had been sexually assaulted would have that changed my perspective of her, I would hope not. Too often in life we judge people based on certain life circumstances or based on how they look. It is obvious to me now that this little girl has not had the easiest life and as she gets older she might have other life challenges that she will face. If I could go back in time and tell her one thing knowing what I know now it would be to not let her past define her and to not be afraid to move forward in life. 

Next time you are introduced to someone new, remember to not judge them, get to know more about them instead. You never know who you are going to meet throughout your lifetime, which is the beauty of life.   

Yours truly,
Stacy Schaffer
Miss ND International 2011