Last month, our CEO, Linda, attended a fundraising event for the inspirational Alex’s Wish and came back having bid on (and won!) the opportunity for Strive to sponsor Miss Great Britain finalist Ella Stiles. With quite a few folks expressing surprise at this turn of events, we figured now, as we explore this month’s Key of Happiness: Acceptance, was the perfect time to answer some of the questions we've received.  
 
So, here we go, question one… 
 
What was Linda thinking? 
 
Honestly?! And we’re assuming you want the honest answer here. Linda wasn't overthinking it. Ella's warmth and enthusiasm as she shared her story and request for sponsorship struck a chord with Linda and, whilst Linda briefly considered the questions she might face, her gut instinct was to trust Ella. She believed in Ella's unique insight into the beauty pageant world and was open to the idea that our preconceptions might not be telling us the whole story. Ella seemed genuinely lovely, and with little time to mull it over, Linda decided to go with her gut and take a chance. 
 
But isn’t Linda a feminist? 
 
Of course she is! But feminism that excludes women who do things differently, or women who embrace a traditional feminine beauty ideal, isn't really feminism. It’s a distraction, another thing for women to argue amongst themselves about when we really should just be supporting each other. Assuming that women who appear to spend considerable time, money, and effort ensuring that they look incredible can't also be dynamic, diverse, capable, intelligent, and deserving of compassion and care? Yeah, that's not very feminist either. Don’t believe us!? Then it might be time to re/watch the Barbie movie. 
 
And, doesn’t supporting beauty pageants contradict Strive’s values and goals? 
 
We understand why you might initially think so, but it really really just doesn’t. Strive’s fundamental goal is to help as many people as possible access resources that will help them build the mental fitness tools needed to live their best possible lives. We are compassion focussed, non-judgmental, authentic, and learning from others every single day. We also do our very best to lead by example and to put our money where our mouth is - and this ethos starts from the top down. 
 
Linda embodies these values every day. She recruits staff who share these values and resonates with people and organisations that do, too. Supporting Ella on her Ms GB beauty pageant journey, and learning from her unique experience, is just another way of embracing that commitment to remaining open-minded, non-judgmental, and aware of the limits of our own experience and understanding. If we want our members to continue their journey of learning and growth, you better bet we need to be prepared to continue that journey ourselves! 
 
In short, we recognise everyone’s inherent value and potential, and embrace everything there is to learn from our diverse outlooks and experiences. By remaining open to all that Ella has to teach us and by supporting her on her journey too, we’re putting these values into action, demonstrating that mental fitness support should be accessible to all and that we will never know the full story until we ask. 
 
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So, here we are, at the very beginning of what is sure to be an interesting adventure for Miss Great Britain finalist, Ella Stiles and for Strive. We’re very excited to find out what comes next and we absolutely most definitely can’t wait to share it all with you too! 
 
 
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