Each year, Seventeen magazine invites young women to participate in their “Pretty Amazing” Real-Girl Cover contest, which honors girls “who have amazing stories to tell.”
More than 25,000 women applied to this year’s contest and the magazine has narrowed down the competition to five young finalists.
Among them is Kay-Ci Bele, a 17-year-old African-American girl, who is aspiring to become an Olympic wrestler.
Bele is a four-time state championship winner who has earned many of her victories wrestling against boys.
In an appearance on The Today Show this morning, Bele talked about her passion for the sport and what sparked her interest.
“When I was younger I was molested and [my dad] wanted me to learn how to protect myself,” she said, going on to explain that it was her father who encouraged her to start wrestling after she had begun learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
In a feature on Seventeen’s website, Bele told more of her story and admitted that she initially hid the news of her molestation from her family.
“I spent a lot of time being angry and vicious toward my loved ones and my coaches,” Bele said. “When they finally confronted me about it, I broke down and told them that I had been molested. I feared that they would judge me, or say that I brought it on myself, but they let me know that they are always there for me. It felt great to be able to trust someone.”
Seventeen’s editor-in-chief Anne Shoket says the other four finalists include “a social media entrepreneur, a YouTube star, an HIV activist and a baker extraordinaire.”
Only one winner will be selected and they will receive a $10,000 scholarship from Neutrogena and land a cover on an upcoming issue of Seventeen.
A panel of judges will review the five finalists but readers are also encouraged to vote on their top choice.
Click here to cast your vote now.
Follow Lilly Workneh @Lilly_Works