For more than a century, women have competed for the coveted title of beauty queen. Fueled by the much sought after and revered power that the crown seems to possess, thousands of young women around the world are pressured to become their perfect self in order to win. While the prize comes with a hefty responsibility of giving back to the community, only the most beautiful and often wealthy women feel entitled to this competition.
One pageant, however, is proving that giving doesn’t require an attractive face. It requires a warm and open heart. The Miss Amazing Pageant is setting a new precedence for pageantry by focusing on life skills. And this pageant isn’t designed for the average diva, but rather physically and mentally challenged girls and women who struggle with societal inequities on a daily basis.
Former Miss Nebraska Teen winner and the founder of the Miss Amazing pageant, Jordan Somer, competed for eight years before winning her first crown at 13 years old. “I see pageant titles as a huge responsibility and a chance to be a really great female role model,” she tells MiLLENNiAL.
Having volunteered and witnessed the celebratory atmosphere of the Special Olympics at the age of 12, it was only fitting that after winning her first title she would give back to the special needs community.
While juggling college life at New York University, this 20-year-old former pageant winner, is granting every challenged girl the gift of feeling special and supported. Some of the misconceptions surrounding disabled girls and women Jordan says is that they are “dependent and their abilities are completely invalid.”
The Miss Amazing Pageant is aimed at proving this stereotype wrong. “It’s a chance for them to get up on stage and say ‘this is who I am, this is my entire life, this is what I care about, and this is how I define myself on my own terms.’”
Miss Amazing does a great job of stripping any competitive language from the program and instead “stresses the aspect of communication and social skills.” Jordan explains that all participants leave a winner no matter how big or small, and “everyone can get something out of the experience.” She adds that they aim to take the “whole nasty girl competition” out of the pageant.
Miss Amazing Shines the Light on Every Contestant
“The moment the girls hear their name called for Princess or Queen is just pure joy. It really is the celebration of the love of one’s self.” And while most mainstream pageants require an entry fee of up to $1000, Miss Amazing caters to all socio-economic backgrounds by asking that each girl donate five cans of food in order to participate.
The program has been running for the last seven years and during this time countless success stories have emerged. “Everyone at the Miss Amazing Pageants is there to see the girls succeed,” Jordan says. She recounts the story of a woman named Tina, who was a part of the very first Miss Amazing pageant in 2007.
“When she first participated in that event, she couldn’t really speak above a whisper. She was very shy and timid. Today, she has authored and illustrated three children’s books, speaks to groups on a regular basis, and sang “Tomorrow” from Annie at the top of her lungs [at the most recent pageant].”
Evolving from pageants, Miss Amazing Incorporated is now producing a documentary style series called “Real Girl” giving insight into the everyday lives of these extraordinary pageant participants. The video below showcases Gabby, a physically challenged tween who is just as bubbly as any other. This series showcases the beauty of each girl and highlights her relatable qualities.
In addition to this series, Miss Amazing is also opening up Miss Amazing Workshops. Jordan explains, “It’s really a chance for the girls to get together in a workshop setting and work on the same skills that they do at the Miss Amazing pageant,” which include interviewing, public speaking, and evening wear presentation. “A lot of women are told for whatever reason that they can’t do things that are associated with being powerful or being influential, and same thing for people with disabilities. So when it’s combined into one’s identity that’s commonly seen as an inability and that is truly impacting on those individuals. That’s why this program has been so embraced and there is such a high demand for it.”
If you would like to get involved with Miss Amazing, Jordan stresses the need for volunteers. “We shoot for a one-on-one buddy system.” There are many opportunities to participate in their programs. From sponsoring an event, to being a chapter leader, or simply attending to support the princesses and queens, Miss Amazing welcomes you with open arms and vibrant smiles.