• Cecilia Ridgeway

Miss RemarkAble promotes self confidence in women with disabilities

We have engulfed our society Miss America and Miss Universe, or television shows like Toddlers and Tiaras. In pageants like these, women and girls compete in the cut throat world of beauty. Many people believe that pageants put a lot of unneeded stress onto women and that only the prettiest and thinnest girls can be a part of it, while others think it’s the exact opposite. This controversy stems from a long history of beauty pageants in our country.

Starting in 1947, pageant contestants competing in the Miss America pageant were required to wear two-piece bathing suits. A year later, bikinis were banned from the pageant. Then in 1977, they brought them back as an option. Now, after a lot of back and forth, Miss America is cutting the swimwear portion all together.

Through the years, pageants have changed and adapted to fit the modern world, but the bar for women’s beauty standards continues to rise. That ends now. Miss RemarkAble is a beauty pageant for women 13 and older who have disabilities, helping to build their self-esteem and confidence. The women in the Miss RemarkAble pageant don’t get judged based on appearance; instead the judges look at their successes, community involvement, abilities, and personality traits.

“Miss RemarkAble was created by Aptiv, formerly known as Riverfront, as an event to give women with disabilities the ability to build life skills and self-confidence. It is also an opportunity to spotlight the accomplishments of women with disabilities in our communities,” Elissa Russell, the pageant coordinator, said. Aptiv is an organization created with the sole purpose of helping people with disabilities. On their website they have many programs and resources to help support parents, help with home care and different ways for families to connect with each other. Aptiv is not only there for support, they also are there to promote the excellence of community members who have disabilities.

Michelle Hill was the first winner of Miss RemarkAble when it was started in 2015 in La Crosse. Another Miss RemarkAble pageant was started in 2018 in Janesville. The most recent Miss RemarkAble pageant was on November 9th, 2019, when Shelby Rechke was crowned.

Vicky Wedig the community outreach coordinator for Miss RemarkAble, said, “My role was to recruit participants to join the event and distribute information about it to participants, their guardians and their teachers, if applicable.” If there is a girl here at La Follette that wishes to participate in a Miss RemarkAble pageant she can apply online on Aptiv’s website and/ or get a paper copy by calling or going to one of Aptiv’s many locations. Although, In order to participate you need a documented disability. “The applicants are served on a first come, first serve basis,” Russell said.

A regular pageant day will start off with educational workshops in the morning, one-on-one interviews with each contestant, then finally the women going on stage where they are introduced to the audience. According to Russell, is usually about 200 people. A video they made about themselves called RemarkAble Me gets played, giving the audience a sense of who they are. Even though the winning title is Miss RemarkAble, every other woman who participates gets crowned with a personalized title like Miss Outgoing, Miss Creative, Miss Positive and many more. They are given a crown, sash, and scholarship that can be used for different therapy classes including ones to help get you up and moving. “The Miss RemarkAble pageant is a supportive environment where women with disabilities are celebrated for their abilities, rather than their disabilities. This event encourages our community to be more inclusive of people with disabilities, creates a community which welcomes, encourages, and values the contributions of all individuals.” Russell finished.

Everyones can keep a more open mind about beauty pageants and how anyone can be a beauty queen.

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