Now What Happens If I Look Sick

Sunday, April 23, 2017

In contrary to my last post, what do you do when you hear this…

“Why is she so small?”
“Why does she wear those crazy outfits?”
“What is that thing?”

Visible chronic illness is just as difficult to deal with as Invisible Illness. I have had countless young friends that have been made fun of and been outcasts just because of their feeding tube or small size. My main statement behind this blog goes back to one thing that I am sure you were told countless times when you were young… “don't judge a book by its cover.” Many of us have heard this a million times, but honestly how many of us actually do it.

Take a step back… someone may be a small size because of their medication. Those crazy outfits the pain community wears, they are to bring awareness about different diseases and struggles we go through. Lastly that “thing” you are pointing at and staring at saves people's lives and/or helps their quality of life. Most of the time it is a big step for people to go shopping or go out to dinner. Please do not judge them. I have seen it too many times myself.

Most people are very open about their illnesses. They have no problem answering questions and letting you know a little more about their daily life. I promise they would rather give answers than deal with stares and whispers.

I encourage all of you to like the U.S. Pain Foundation Facebook Page as well as mine to stay updated on ways you can help and understand the chronic pain community.

“Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds”
- Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

My Trip to Charleston

Hello everyone, Priscilla, Amanda and I were able to visit Charleston, West Virginia these past couple of days. I am so excited for all of the ladies competing and their families to see this amazing town. We felt so welcomed from the moment we landed.

We kept busy the whole trip so I wanted to give you an inside look on all of the trips events. The morning started off early with 3 radio interviews. These were to promote tourism day at the capitol building as well as the  pageant coming to Charleston this summer! Next we headed to the Capitol to meet representatives and senators from all over West Virginia! March 20th, 2017 was declared International Pageants Day in West Virginia. How exciting is that?!

After accepting the proclamation we were able to participate in a few TV interviews with local news stations. Later we were able to begin the photo shoots that will be used for promotional purposes for the pageant and for Charleston.  We started by shooting pictures outside of the beautiful Capitol building! Next we had a small break to get ready for the West Virginia Hospitality Association Legislative Reception at the State Culture Museum. Here we were able to meet and speak to more government officials and leaders from different counties in West Virginia. They did an amazing job with this reception there was delicious food from all over the state. Also the Culture Center is one of the most amazing buildings. It is truly beautiful so Mrs. Contestants get ready for a treat!

The next day brought some more amazing photo shoots. We started with an early breakfast with the amazing Mary and Cristen. Then we headed over to Tidewater Grille in the Charleston Mall for a mini photoshoot there.  Next was a stop at Ivors Boutique! For the ladies who are competing please make some time to come to this shop! It is amazing and just had so many great clothing pieces in it. They sponsored an outfit for each of us to wear for the next part of the photoshoot, so a big thank you goes to Ivor’s. My outfit was a pair of fabulous black pants, a white crop top, and gold sequin shall. A special thank you to Cristen for letting me rock her sunglasses for a few of the pictures! We headed over to Capitol Market for the next photo shoot location. If you ladies are looking for something sweet while in Charleston Holls Chocolates is the place to go!

Miss and Teen Contestants! Have you watched the live stream video on Facebook that shows you the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences yet? If not you need to! It is a beautiful theatre, I am so excited to see ya’ll rocking the stage in August! We took more photos at the Clay Center then went on to the airport. This was such an exciting shoot. We were able to take photos next to a private jet, which is right up my alley. Next was dinner then the Ronald McDonald House where we were able to meet a special little princess. She was so sweet, and even crowned me.

Contestants, get ready for the time of your life. I cannot believe the pageant is so close. Charleston here we come!

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

How to Write a Testimony

Recently I have fallen in love with being involved in the government. Whether in the local, state, or national level you all can have an impact! I encourage all of you to become involved and speak on what you are passionate about. After I testified on behalf of American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network on the SB 1106/ Tobacco 21 I have been asked about my experience as a whole and how someone should go about writing a testimony.

The experience went great, however be prepared to walk into a very serious and professional atmosphere. Make sure to dress nicely, I choose a black business suit and red top. I wanted to show that even though I was just 18, I showed a valuable perspective. If you are talking about highly controversial issue be prepared to only have a short amount of time to speak due to both sides having a large amount of speakers. You will be asked to keep your testimony anywhere from 3-5 minutes in these cases.

A very important part of testifying in my opinion is sharing your personal connection or experience. I also believe you should speak from the heart. This means I recommend creating an outline highlighting the key parts of your testimony rather than writing a full. Here is a sample outline of my testimony I did in front of the Senate:

SB 1106- Tobacco 21 Testimony Information
Senate State Affairs - March 3rd, 2017

Garin Harris- Miss Teen International 2016
Giving the Youth Perspective
  • Inconsistency of age for alcohol vs tobacco - alcohol age moved up to prevent alcohol related accidents
  • Personal Experience of Exposure During High School
  • E-cigarette use in teens (3x more likely to progress to tobacco)

Plan of Action-

Introduce Self - Name, Age, Where I Live , Title

Involvement in Advocating for Health Issues Especially Youth-
  • Run my own program for chronic pain patients called Dancing Through the Pain

  • I am an National Ambassador and spokesperson for U.S. Pain Foundation as well as the American Heart Association

Importance of Public Policy in Youth Health-
  • Ultimately it is up to you to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

  • AHA is an organization based completely on science. It has been proven that if you are not addicted to tobacco products before the age of 21 the most likely you will not be.

  • There is an inconsistency between the alcohol age limit vs the tobacco age limit alcohol being 21 and tobacco of course 18

  • The alcohol age was pushed up to minimize the cause of alcohol related car accidents and deaths. Over the years this has succeeded

  • Tobacco is a cause of countless deaths, though typically the effects of tobacco are seen later in life we are seeing the age group affected grow

  • Now young adults as early as age 19/20 are experiencing heart problems some even as severe as a heart attack

  • Heart Disease is the #1 killer of women  

School Experience-
  • I was young for my grade during my high-school years however by the time
          Jr/Sr year rolled around most of my classmates were 18 years old

  • I could not begin to tell you the amount of times I was offered a variety of tobacco products

  • I can also not begin to tell you how many teens used e-cigarettes and would consistently tell me that they were better for them because they were not actual cigarettes

  • Teens who use e-cigarettes are 3x more likely to progress into tobacco usage/addiction

  • AHA, ACS CAN, and ALA have all been focusing on the issue of tobacco in your youth

  • Officers are finding kids as young as 10 with tobacco/ vape related products on them

  • Also 18-19 year old special education students are also being targeted and taken advantage of by younger students persuading them to buy tobacco products for them

  • As a future Social Worker that will cause major issues for all parties involved in that situation

  • With 25% of high schoolers using vape products this calls for major concerns of them turning to tobacco in the future

I hope this helps all of you to use your voice to speak on what you believe in.

“Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds”
- Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

I May Not Always Look Sick

“You are just being lazy”

“You could try harder”

“You must just be tired”

...“You don’t look sick”

These phrases are what chronic pain patients hear on a daily basis. We know that any illness is hard to deal with, but how about one that people cannot see. In some cases you lose weight, or suffer hair loss but with most chronic pain patients their outer image stays exactly the same.

Sometimes symptoms come and go. Allowing for good normal days and terrible bad ones. So, since most days they see are good they think “hmmm she was just tired today” or “He just wanted to miss school.”

Having an illness is tough, having a chronic illness that you will have to cope with for the rest of your life is even tougher.

It all goes back to, as an outsider looking in everything may look normal but everyone you meet is going through something. Please be kind, and try to understand. Ask questions if you have them, the chronic pain community doesn't mind! We appreciate you open-minded and wanting to learn about things us or our family members go through. Remember, everyone will experience pain at some point in their lives. It’s all about knowing how to deal with it when it comes so learn to... Dance Through the Pain!

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

The Pageant Planet Awards

Recently Pageant Planet released a few articles with awards for those in the pageant community! I have always said that the International Pageant system has the best sponsors, and this year they have done an amazing job being recognized for all of their accomplishments. Not only were our sponsors recognized but so were a few contestants. Here is a list so far of who has been recognized by pageant planet!
Clay Spann: Clay was not listed for 1 but 2 awards so far from Pageant Planet. He was in the Top 10 Make-Up Artist list and the Top 10 Headshot photographer list. Both of them were well deserved! I have had the privilege of working with Clay and he is not only amazing but a friend as well!

Here is what Pageant Planet says:

“Clay Spann is really a powerhouse of talent. Not only can he do your makeup for a photoshoot or pageant, but he also sells his own line of cosmetic products and makeup – and did I mention he can also take your headshot photos? Clay Spann’s headquarters is a one-stop-shop for your glamorous look for your upcoming pageant. Clay is located in Dothan, Alabama.”

“Talk about a one-stop shop! Clay Spann is not only an extremely talented photographer but also an impeccable makeup artist. Embedded in each of his sessions is a makeup session with him to ensure you look and feel your best during the time spent with him. Clay has worked with the national title holders for the International Systems tem and numerous state and local titleholders for both Miss America Organization and Miss USA pageants. Clay is located in Dothan, Alabama and has a very glamorous approach to both makeup and photography. A bonus about working with Clay? If you love the products he uses on you during your makeup session, you can buy the products from him as he also has his own cosmetics line.”
Joey Rutherford: Joey is the owner of Competitive Image and also a close friend. The Competitive Image is an excellent pageant store. I purchased my evening gown and other pieces I wore at nationals from them! I will be attending the Trunk Show in April and highly recommend going. I attended last year and it helped me greatly! Congratulations to my friend Joey, I cannot wait to see you soon.

Here is what Pageant Planet Says:

“Located in Dothan, Alabama is The Competitive Image. “Magnificent Apparel and Finery” is this boutique’s slogan. It has provided attire for hundreds of titleholders dating back to 2001. It’s no wonder The Competitive Image is among the top in the nation, as they also hold events during the year. In April, Sherri Hill will be at their Trunk Show.”
Thomas Dunn: Amanda, Priscilla, and I all just had a trip to Roanoke to see Thomas and Drew Dunn, Owners of the salon. They provided us all with fabulous hair extensions. They are so amazing, ladies please remember to book your appointments for nationals. They are the only hair and makeup sponsors allowed backstage to help with hair and makeup!

Here is what Pageant Planet Says:

“This full-service salon located in Roanoke, Virginia offers hair, makeup and even photography services. Although I have never been there myself, I was a fan as soon as I read that the salon uses Oribe products. I am a full-on fan of Oribe products for hair.”

Priscilla Pruitt: Congratulations to my sister titleholder Priscilla for making the Top 10 Mrs. Evening Gown list! Clearly it was well deserved, you look stunning in your evening gown!
Here is what Pageant Planet Says:  
“This mermaid gown is beautiful, especially with the super long train and jeweled accents along the neckline and shoulders. The pure white color is stunning. It is so simple with some beautiful accents to make it stand out, and Priscilla looks beautiful in this gown! The dark hair looks amazing with the white gown. The crown and sash definitely look great with it, too.

Me: I cannot believe I was awarded with this honor! I was so excited when I heard the news that I was number 2 on Pageant Planet's Top 10 Teen Gown List . A big thank you goes to Joey from Competitive Image. Thank you for helping me pick my dream gown. You were such a crucial part of my pageant journey and I cannot thank you enough!  
Here is what Pageant Planet says:  
“This is an example of an insanely beautiful mermaid style gown. Garin looks jaw-droppingly stunning in this white mermaid style evening gown. The style of this design looks amazing along with its fabric and designs. She definitely chose her perfect gown for Miss Teen International 2016!”

I also want to congratulate a few of our contestants for also being recognized. Jessica Johnson made the Top 10 Teen Evening Gown list with me and Nicole Zwiercan and Jessica Jackson made the Top 10 Mrs. Evening Gown list!

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds." -Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

The Importance of Inspiration

How I got ready-2.jpg
This blog post may be cheesy but I am a firm believer that it is so important to constantly be working to better yourself. In order to do that however, you need inspiration. I recently re-designed my room and filled it with inspirational quotes and cute messages. This is just one easy way to get inspired! Here are a few of the quotes that are in my room!

“She has sparkle all her own”

I have loved this quote for years, it is a good reminder that it is okay ad even important to be different and stand out in a crowd. Everyone has their own calling, follow yours not anyone else’s!

I WILL BE… Alert, Agreeable, Ambitious, Alluring, Active, Brave, Bright, Bold, Capable, Cheerful, Calm, Charming, Confident, Cooperative, Courageous, Caring, Cultured, Decisive, Discreet, Delightful, Determined, Dynamic, Diligent, Eager, Efficient, Enchanting, Energetic, Enthusiastic, Excellent, Fabulous, Faithful, Fair, Fearless, Fine, Friendly, Generous, Gentle, Glorious, Good, Happy, Helpful, Impartial, Industrious, Intelligent, Jolly, Kind, Loving, Lucky, Likable, Mature, Nice, Peaceful, Placid, Pleasant, Proud, Plucky, Quiet, Receptive, Resolute, Reflective, Responsible, Romantic, Sensitive, Sincere, Successful, Talented, Thoughtful, Trustworthy, Tender, Truthful, Upright, Vivacious, Warm, Willing, Wise, Witty, Wonderful… WOW

This to me is a really important and very useful for interview! One question a contestant should always prepare for is “ What are three words you would use to describe yourself?” This is a list of adjectives you may want to use to describe yourself. I think everyone should learn to be a dynamic person. As a titleholder it is extremely important to also be adaptable and positive!

Another way to find inspiration is by following different positive quote accounts on Twitter or Instagram. Social media can focus on the negative from time to time so, it’s important to fill your feed with positivity Remember you have the choice of who you follow, you have the power to make your feed positive or negative.

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

How I Got Ready- New York Fashion Week

How I got ready.jpg
I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Red Dress Collection during NYFW! This event is to raise awareness that heart disease is the number one killer of women! So many people have been asking me how I got ready and what products I used so here is an inside look on my routine for walking the red carpet during NYFW!

Make- Up-
Vitamin E Oil- First Aid Beauty Spray
Primer- Porefessional by Benefit
Foundation- Sand Olive Picture Perfect Foundation by Clay Spann
Concealer - Golden Beige and Ivory by Clay Spann
Setting Powder- Linen and Natural tan by Clay Spann
Baking - Translucent Loose Powder in Warm Beige by Clay Spann
Contour- Matte Bronze by Clay Spann
Eyebrows- Dipbrow in Soft Brown by Anastasia  
                  and Soft Brown Brow Definer by Clay Spann
Eye/ Lip primer- by Clay Spann (one color)
Blush- Romance and Bouquet Blush by Clay Spann
Eyeshadow-  Vanilla Shake, Toast, Mocha, Cat Walk, and Mystic by  
                      Clay Spann were all used for this look
Eyeliner- Jet Black Eye Pencil by Clay Spann  
Lashes- Mega Lash Mascara by Clay Spann then use Duo dark glue    
             to apply Dunn and Dunn “A Dunn Deal Lashes”
Lipstick- Sunset and Cranberry Crush by Clay Spann
Finishing Touches- Neutral Set Powder- Ben Nye

Long story short I love Clay Spann and Dunn and Dunn! Ladies remember to book your appointments with the Dunns today. They are the only hair and makeup artists allowed backstage to assist with hair and makeup!
I decided to go with something fun and different for New York Fashion Week. Since the show was all about heart health I chose to go with black almond shape nails with a EKG readings and a heart on them. For those who do not know what an EKG is, it is an electrocardiogram that prints your heart's electrical activity on paper! It was totally nerdy to do, but everyone seemed to love them!
This amazing gown was given to me by Competitive Image. The designer is Fernando Wong! Remember the International Pageants Trunk Show is April 20th, 21st, and 22nd in Dothan, Alabama! I would love to see you all there!

Hair- I curled my hair with a Hot Tools curling iron then teased my           
        hair with a basic teasing brush

I hope this was helpful to you! If you would like me to write more blogs like this comment below!

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."
-Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016

The Bowery Mission

Amanda and I were able to visit and volunteer at the Bowery Mission in New York City. It was very interesting and eye opening to get a look of what all happens behind the scenes. Here is an inside look into the Bowery Mission.

The Bowery Mission is one of the oldest in NYC. Located on the Lower East Side the mission is a vital part of the South Bronx and Harlem neighborhoods. They are a multi service shelter providing shelter, 3 meals a day, and medical care. The mission also has a variety of life changing programs designed to get people off of the streets and into apartments with steady jobs. Ultimately the mission believes that a meal and a smile can change a life.
The day we planned to visit happened to be the day there was practically a blizzard in New York. Over 5,000 flights were canceled! Imagine being without a warm house or shoes during a snowstorm. I couldn’t begin to imagine how that would be so, I was determined to help. Since we showed up early in the morning it was our job to help the other volunteers serve breakfast and prep for the lunch and dinner meals! For Breakfast they had the option of banana or brown sugar oatmeal with fruit, coffee, bagels, and a pastry. I am impressed by the amount of food they have and about the amount of people they are able to serve on a daily basis!
After serving breakfast and cleaning up they gave the other volunteers and I a tour of the rest of the mission. There is a large chapel where local preachers and other volunteers teach the word before a meal is served. On snowy days like the day we volunteered they had a movie day. the chapel pews were filled with people watching movies for the day. At night if the weather continues, they bring out mattresses into the cafeteria to accommodate even more people. I am glad I had the opportunity to help this mission in any way!

For more information on the Bowery Mission please visit:

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds." -Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016

Utah International Pageants

I was able to attend the Utah International Pageants! It is always amazing to meet and see contestants as well as Ansley, Miss Teen Utah International 2016. Here are a few more details about how my trip went!
The first day I arrived was rehearsal the ladies worked hard on mastering the opening number and different areas of competition. Rehearsals are always fun to watch, it makes me miss all of the girls from nationals. That is where the true bonding happens. From helping each other zip dresses to awkward dance parties to help calm your nerves, the stage is where most of your memories are made.
The second day was night one of competition which I had the honor to emcee at.I had never had the opportunity to emcee before but it was so much fun.  I loved being able to see the ladies from that viewpoint as well as share with the audience about my year so far as Miss Teen International, Go Red for Women, and having a heart healthy lifestyle while on the go.
Early the next morning, were the interviews. I was able to help guide the girls through the process of interviews as far as how it works and what style of questions they will be asked. Some words of encouragement and a prayer was said and they were ready! The most important thing you can remember for interview is that the judges are not there to scare you. They were hand picked by the director and pageant board because they are kind and qualified people. The judges have read your paperwork and are excited to finally meet you in person. Plus, they have a hard job in some cases they are more nervous the you are!
After interviews we had a luncheon where all of the girls heard motivational speeches from sponsors and their wonderful director Tiffany McKay! There was a small break before the final night of competition. Of course there were a few ups and downs and nerves. One of them being a little princess who froze on stage! That's okay though, nerves are natural and she was so little! The finals night was awesome all of the ladies did a fantastic job. Congratulations to the new Miss Utah International, Maddie Jonely, and the new Miss Teen Utah International Madison Baldwin! Have an amazing year ladies!

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds." -Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016 

Use Your Voice

As an eighteen year old, sometimes I am not taken seriously by adults. I am sure some of my fellow teen titleholders have had similar experiences. It is hard for someone of any age to speak up about issues they feel our important. It's even harder to go to elected officials and give your opinion and try to influence their vote. However, despite your fear I encourage you to. Once you make an appointment and get in the conference room, it isn't as intimidating as it seems. However, here are a few tips on lobbying for your cause.

Be Prepared:
Representatives and Senators ask the tough questions. They have experience with people coming in and speaking to them about a lot of issues. Therefore they typically know what to ask. Make sure to be prepared and cover your bases before stepping into their offices.

Leave Behind Packet:
Create a folder of materials to leave behind in their office. This should include a simple one page document explaining the issue and what you would like them to help with as well as something with bold graphics that are eye catching. I have seen some large corporations even leave a small gift such as a mini flashlight with their logo or contact information on it. This is completely optional, I have lobbied many times without leaving a gift and have still gotten support for my topic.

Dress Appropriately:
Senators and Representatives come to work everyday in a suit or nice shirt and tie with slacks. They take their work seriously so, your attire should match that type of atmosphere. I like to be in a professional looking dress that covers or in a suit of some sort. If you walk in looking professional then they will take you a lot more seriously.

I am excited to see what amazing thing you all will be lobbying for! I hope this helps you walk in with confidence.

"Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds." -Orison Swett Marden

Garin Harris
Miss Teen International 2016