The Beauty of This Pageant

Often the discussion about so-called beauty pageants turns to whether these contests contribute to the objectification of women or their empowerment. But tonight a large focus will be on contestants for entirely different reasons.

Allyn Rose is a 24-year-old, representing Washington, D.C., who will be undergoing a double mastectomy after the pageant. Allyn’s mother, grandmother, and great aunt all died of breast cancer. She’s taking this step as a preventative measure.

Mariah Cary–no, not the singer (Carey)–has Tourette’s Syndrome and she will represent Iowa. Mariah was diagnosed when she was 8 years old. The Burlington, Iowa native has made Tourette’s her platform.

And then there’s Alexis Wineman. The 18-year-old Miss Montana has autism, borderline Asperger’s syndrome. Alexis learned she has autism when she was eleven. As Miss Montana and as a Miss American contestant, she has made living with autism her platform.

It would be wonderful if any of these women–or any of the other contestants with personally inspirational stories that have gone un- or under-reported–would win, because they could use the crown to spread greater awareness about their personal issues. However, they’ve shown that competing locally, winning in their respective states/districts, and being in the paegant have already given them a larger platform to educate people. A Miss America they’d have even greater recognition.

After the rush online and in other media to identify autism as the reason why the horrendous murders in Sandy Hook took place, it would be especially great if Alexis Wineman took the crown. She has shown and will continue to show that just as with people who do not have autism have many faces (i.e. great diversity), so do people that have autism.

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