How Emma Broyles Is Striving For Transparency As Miss America - Exclusive

When we think of Miss America, most of us have a glamorous image in mind. Between the beautiful clothes and sparkling crown, it's easy to put the exalted winner on a pedestal. But Emma Broyles, the recently crowned Miss America 2022, hopes to change that for a more authentic image. 

As the first representative from Alaska to win the title, Broyles won $100,000 in scholarship money, which she plans to use for medical school. However, amidst the awards and recognition, Broyles is striving to remain relatable to her audience.

During a conversation with The List the day after her big win, Broyles opened up about her journey with ADHD and dermatillomania. She also explained why remaining transparent about those aspects of her life is an integral part of her Miss America role. "What's most important to me is having that sense of vulnerability and sharing with people that I have struggles too," Broyles said.

Why she shares her ADHD diagnosis

One of the biggest ways Emma Broyles has shown her commitment to transparency is by openly discussing her journey with ADHD. Broyles was diagnosed with ADHD last year at the age of 19. Since then, she's spoken about her experience on social media, and she took the opportunity to bring it to a broader audience during her interview in the Miss America competition.

Speaking with The List, Broyles talked about how difficult taking classes can be, especially before she was diagnosed. "It was so incredibly frustrating going through school and going through my first year of college, putting in three times, four times the amount of work as my peers to get the straight A's, right? To get the 4.0. It just felt unfair," Broyles said. "Ultimately, getting that diagnosis made me realize that this is just how my brain is wired, and that's okay."

Broyles hopes that in sharing her struggles, she can help those who relate seek the help they may need. She also loved seeing how those with ADHD or similar diagnoses rallied behind her. "It was a really incredible moment for me to feel like I had this platform to speak about the things that are important to me. And I was feeling so grateful this morning when I woke up because I just had a lot of messages from people saying that they had never really seen neuro-divergent brain representation in a position like this," she said.

Why she advocates for mental health

Along with ADHD, Emma Broyles is also open about her struggles with dermatillomania, a form of OCD that manifests in skin picking. Broyles said managing her dermatillomania has been a long journey, but that she's come a long way by working with a dermatologist and learning to recognize her triggers.

"It was that kind of trajectory that I had placed for myself with my dermatologist that made me realize that this is something that I could do," Broyles said. "And just the difference that I felt in my life and in my self-confidence after I was able to get a hold of my dermatillomania and finally stop having that be a thing that's plaguing me."

For Broyles, speaking about mental health is a vital aspect of her role as Miss America. "To be somebody who can speak about my mental health issues on a national stage, I think that it's very representative of all of the present change that Miss America has seen," she said.

She hopes to act as an inspiration

In showing her struggles, Emma Broyles doesn't just want to be relatable but she also wants to show how she's grown from those experiences. "We all [have] flaws. We all have struggles, and that's okay," she said. "It's okay to be in a low point in your life." Broyles reached a particularly low point in 2020 during the pandemic, but she said that's what pushed her to where she is now.

"Look at around this time last year, I was probably at the darkest time of my entire life," Broyles said. "And now, a year later, I'm Miss America. I mean, it's just crazy how life happens. And I really am thankful that I was able to kind of touch so many lives."

She hopes that through sharing the hardships she's gone through, anyone struggling can "feel less alone." And in showing how far she's come from that place, she wants them to "feel that sense of hope and that sense of inspiration that they'll be able to do it too."

The 100th Miss America competition is currently streaming on Peacock.