|Photo by Susan Costa|
So, let's see what happens when Shannon Hopkins visits Section 36!
What made you want to participate in the Miss Maine program as Miss Knox County?
That is a great question, last winter right before COVID hit I was attending a Maine Agriculture banquet as The Maine Wild Blueberry Queen that hosted all commodity queens and the current Miss Maine, Carolyn Brady was a special guest. Carolyn and I really connected over different things, laughed a lot, and we spoke about her opportunities as Miss Maine. I planned on entering the competition for the 2020 year before it was cancelled but held out for a very long time. To be honest, I regret waiting so long to enter, but I thought long and hard about not being accepted, and the fact that there had never really been a plus size individual on the Miss America stage. After multiple conversations with friends and family, I came to the conclusion, I had to do this not only for myself, but for the great individuals of Maine and beyond who feel like they aren’t comfortable in their own skin or accepted for being their true authentic selves. I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone in fear of being made fun of, or laughed at and be Acceptable ME for the individuals that are too afraid to be themselves. In the month of October, I finally took the leap and became Miss Knox County to compete on the Miss Maine stage in June of 2021!
What part of the upcoming Miss Maine competition are you most nervous about?
I think really the whole aspect of the competition makes me nervous as this will be my real first official big stage competition. I competed at The Union Fair as The Maine Wild Blueberry Queen which was a small local fair competition. In 2019 I won Miss Congeniality and was crowned The Maine Wild Blueberry Queen for 2019/2020. I think one of the most things I'm nervous about is being able to rock and walk in heels, as I’m not a heel kind of gal! Ha-ha. I’m very tall and have never really had a need to wear heels, so hopefully I don’t fall flat on my face! Other than that I’m a very confident person in myself and just want to be accepted for being truly authentic.
Do you have a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Knox County?
During my time as Miss Knox County I want to accomplishpromoting body positivity for not only myself, but others. I want it to be known that I’m standing up to break stereotypes based on weight and body image in today's society. I’ve personally interviewed over 200 women about body image perceptions and asked them simple survey questions to find out as to what most individuals were struggling with either present or past. I feel as society has placed such a standard stereotype on being “big” or “too small” etc. Why can’t someone just be confident in being themselves and others be okay with a person loving themselves or looking a certain way. Why does it always have to be about losing weight and dieting, or anorexia and bulimia. Why can’t we promote a world that is focused on accepting individuals the way they are and to prevent the self conscious minds of individuals. By connecting with these individuals with these survey questions and general conversations, I came to the conclusion all the reasons I needed to make it official as running as a candidate for Miss Maine. The decision was not only for myself but for the others struggling to find their place in accepting themselves and others accepting them by being their true authentic selves.
How did you select social impact initiative: Acceptable ME?
This social impact initiative that I have founded, Acceptable ME is very important to me because this is something near and dear to my heart. I grew up with my grandparents and due to childhood trauma, things were a lot harder growing up. I was always defined as an outcast, struggling being overweight growing up and struggling to fit in. I’ve always felt like I haven’t been accepted due to being myself. I’ve always been taller, bigger, and different than most. I’ve always been outgoing, and have had an infectious personality but by being myself, I was always made fun of for something or told to be something I’m not. This often led to depression and anger in myself and others for many years. Once I got to college, I told myself that I would stop allowing myself to feel like a bother to others, and began living my life for myself as my true self.
Acceptable ME stands for standing up against societal "norms" to break stereotypes based on weight, body image, and diet culture in today's society. Through Acceptable ME we are leading the way for all individuals in today’s society fighting to be accepted for the way they are whether “short”, “tall”, “big” or “small” and to help them stand up against society stating that they can be accepted for themselves and be treated with respect while being authentic to themselves. Another aspect of this social impact initiative I’m looking to bring awareness to is health. By implementing health as another focus, we begin to realize that size and health doesn’t go hand in hand. We always hear “you aren’t healthy you weigh this much..” or “you need to do this to be healthy”, but health isn’t defined by a number on the scale, or the way you look. There is more beyond health and size to living a happy healthy life. I want to help others build the confidence to be themselves and not let their size and what others say hold them back from being their true self, together we will help individuals be Acceptable ME.
You have a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. What interests you the most about that field?
I grew up in a small town that was a heavy town for tourists in the summer and winter months featuring over 40 places to stay locally owned. In high school I attended a vocational school where I participated in a hospitality program; which consisted of one year of baking and pastry and one year of culinary arts. I was really passionate about the program, but thought about further ways to expand hospitality. I thought about managing a hotel or opening my own business as one of our teachers owned their own business. By obtaining my degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management and one credit shy of a Business degree at Southern Maine Community College, I really hope to open my own bed and breakfast one day in the future. I attempted to move out of state a few years ago and after a few months returned home. Maine will always be home, and there is just something about the coastline and the comfort of Maine local businesses like none other. I’m so passionate about the great state of Maine as it is like no other state I’ve traveled to, after all Maine is the vacationland!
After graduating from SMCC as the first person in my family to attend college, in 2019 I began a dental hygiene degree at The University of Maine at Augusta. I wanted something to further my knowledge and I wanted to take a different path. I’ve always loved my dentist and have always thought about becoming a hygienist and finally took the step to begin the education requirements towards that degree. I am currently on a waitlist to secure my chair at the dental clinic at The University of Maine, which is an extremely hard program to get into as they only accept 12 students per year for the clinic. I feel extremely accomplished as I didn’t have the easiest childhood and have always strived for the most learning skills possible. Through my college career I participated in the hospitality and events committee, business club, pre health club, and biology club.
If you could be a Disney Character for a week, who would you choose? Why?
This is an extremely hard question as growing up I had so
|Photo by Susan Costa|
How would you complete the sentence, “I get great satisfaction when ___”?
I get great satisfaction when I’m making someone laugh. I contain a comedic, personable personality that makes people want to be around. I’m always telling stories to make people laugh and always cracking jokes! I’m just a fun person to be around.
If you had an extra ticket to a Red Sox game, who would you take with you? Why?
If I had an extra ticket I’d take my grandpa! My grandpa is a major Red Sox fan, we have gone to many spring training games together and we are always talking to some of the players when they have a chance to interact with fans. We have some baseballs that are signed by retired players which is so cool to say we have them. A few years ago my grandpa got a ball thrown to him from David Ortiz the great Big Papi and I got it signed by Jason Varitek right before he retired in 2012. My grandpa and I always tell jokes about that it is his baseball, but my signature on the baseball which people get a good laugh out of it. My grandpa is just such a huge baseball fan and I’d love to go to an actual Fenway Park game with him.
Is there a feature or activity at Fenway that you’d especially like to experience?
I’ve surprisingly never been to Fenway. I’ve been on the outside, but never on the inside. I’d love to have a personalized tour at Fenway or even just catch a game and enjoy one of those hat sundaes! I’ve seen the Red Sox play many spring training games down in Florida and I have seen them down in Maryland at Camden Yard play against the Baltimore Orioles as well. I think really anything up close and personal with the team would be cool!
The hat sundaes are definitely amazing!
As always, I want to thank Shannon for visiting with us, and for sending along the pictures to go with the interview.
As Shannon continues her time as Miss Knox County, I encourage you to follow her on Instagram and check out her Acceptable ME Facebook account. They're great ways to keep track of everything she has going on! And if you want to help support her run at the Miss Maine crown, be sure to check out her fundraising page here.
I also definitely want to wish her the best of luck when she competes for the Miss Maine title. It would be wonderful to have another Section 36 visitor wear that crown!
Thanks again Shannon, and good luck!