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THE SHEFIT BLOG

Prevailing over Poverty - One woman's journey from living on the streets to Miss Michigan Teen USA

“I overcame my circumstances and have made the best of my life.”

From surviving horrific conditions in Ethiopia, to becoming Miss Michigan Teen USA, Anane is a force to be reckoned with.

Growing up on the streets of Ethiopia, five year old Anane had a dream. “I would see people modeling on TV and I would mimic them, walking on my tippy toes - but I didn’t even have shoes.” Anane’s birth mother wanted a better life for her daughters, so she gave them up for adoption. And while Anane claims the orphanage was better than homelessness, she and her sister were often bullied by the older boys and sometimes even hit by the adults.  

When Anane was eight, she and her sister received news that an American couple had adopted them. She can distinctly recall the culture shock of meeting her adoptive parents, “It was the first time I’d seen a Caucasian person and I totally freaked out.” When they arrived in the US, they didn’t speak any English, but quickly learned the language and settled into their new lives. 

During her junior year of high school, Anane discovered that pageantry could open doors to the modeling world, and provided scholarship money to the winners. “I didn’t have the walk down, I didn’t know what kind of gowns to wear, and I worried I may have a disadvantage because I was African American - but I knew I had to enter and give it my best shot. I told my story and was so glad the judges loved me. When I won, I didn’t actually even hear the emcee, and started congratulating the other girl! For so long I had been practicing in the mirror what I would do if I won - and I totally didn’t do that!” Anane is now enjoying her reign as Miss Michigan Teen USA 2018 and will compete in the Miss Teen USA pageant this summer. “I’m very overwhelmed and nervous, but very excited.”

Even as a beauty queen, Anane has dealt with insecurities over the years. “When I first came to the US, I was very skinny because I was sick and malnourished. In fact, I have marks on my stomach because I had worms so badly. Also, the skin on one of my arms is darker than the other, and it’s obvious in pictures. I used to feel so insecure about it all - but then I realized there’s nothing I can do about it - so I might as well embrace it.”

“I believe everything about you is given by God for a reason. It might take time to embrace your marks or scars, but learning to love every little imperfection is the way to go. It’s tempting to compare yourself to other girls or celebrities. You might wish you could be that person, but being yourself is the best person for you to be. When I first started in the pageant world, I compared myself to other girls - their hair or their body - but I realized, this is the hair I have, this is the body I have. Embrace what makes you unique and don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re anything less.”