That’s proof to all young girls that disabilities don’t need to hold them back from following their dreams. If they want to dance on stage, they can. The world suddenly feels a lot more open. The world of pageants doesn’t tend to be known for its diversity and inclusion. When competitions often have swimsuit portions and require massive hair, mounds of makeup, and sparkly dresses, it’s easy to dismiss them as superficial. But pageants can make a difference. They can be a celebration of women that goes beyond traditional stereotypes of physical beauty, celebrating women’s attitudes and talents and allowing a wide range of women to compete. Take the Miss Minnesota pageant. Halima Aden made history last year as the first finalist to compete in a Miss USA pageant while wearing the hijab. She went on to appear in Yeezy shows and in the campaign videos for Fenty Beauty, so it’s fair to say that contest gave her a pretty solid jumping off point. This year, that same pageant brought in Mikayla Holmgren – the first person with Down’s Syndrome to ever compete in a Miss USA pageant.
Not only did Mikayla accomplish being a trailblazer for the world of pageants, she also came away with two awards – the Spirit of Miss USA Award and the Director’s Award. Mikayla started performing when she was six, and quickly fell in love with dancing in front of a crowd. After winning Minnesota Miss Amazing, a pageant for women with disabilities, she knew she was ready to think bigger – so she applied for Miss Minnesota, and quickly got a callback. ‘I went from a special needs pageant to the biggest pageant in the world. It’s kind of crazy,’ Mikayla told BuzzFeed. ‘I was super shocked, I was in tears.
‘Dancing is a good outlet for me. It’s how I express myself. It’s my talent and I want to show people what I can do and how I can give more.’
READ MORE: metro.co.uk