By Robin Clutters

(CBS4)- An active duty soldier from Fort Carson will represent Colorado on the national stage of the Miss America Pageant December 12th through the 16th. Maura Spence Carroll was crowned Miss Colorado this summer. She says being in the military has a lot more in common with the Miss America organization than most people realize.

Maura Spence Carroll

(credit: Maura Spence Carroll)

“The Miss America organization is built not only on scholarships for young women, but also on service to our community,” says Spence Carroll. “We see the same thing in the military. As someone who was raised by a grandfather who was in the Air Force, and who saw a very real value in giving back to our communities, it just makes sense for me to continue doing something to help others.”

The Miss America organization recently launched its own nutrition and wellness program. Encouraging body positivity and promoting health and wellness are both important causes for Miss Colorado.

“You look at traditional body positivity, it says that the only way to feel good about your body is in weight loss. As someone who struggled with a binge eating disorder with body image issues, it was very difficult for me because I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be a part of body positivity,” says Spence Carroll. “Encouraging evidence-based body positivity is what’s important because that is all about the way your body functions. It says there is no moral value in the way your body looks.

“We need to teach the next generation that the way you look is irrelevant. It’s the way your body makes you feel that’s important. I love my body not because of the way it looks or because of the way people perceive it, but because it allows me to hike and do my job as a soldier.”

Spence Carroll is busy getting ready for the Miss America Competition in December. She is on leave from military duty to give her time to prepare.

“You job isn’t competing on stage; your job is to share your story. The way I’m doing that is by finding different initiatives and organizations in Colorado and getting out and spreading the message. I talk about mental health care for veterans and servicemembers and just doing what I can to show people that I love Colorado and I want to see it improve. I will do the same thing for our country if I become Miss America.”

Robin Clutters