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HBO Documentary Follows Beauty Queens With Special Needs


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A beauty pageant just for girls with disabilities is the subject of a new documentary set to premiere on HBO.

The film focuses on the Miss You Can Do It pageant held annually in Kewanee, Ill. The unique event brings together girls with mental and physical disabilities from across the country who are judged on “what is in their heart and not by how their outfits look.”

Abbey Curran — who has cerebral palsy and represented Iowa in the 2008 Miss USA pageant — started the event in 2004.

The documentary, which is also called “Miss You Can Do It,” follows Curran and highlights the experiences of eight girls with disabilities ranging from spina bifida and cerebral palsy to Down syndrome as they compete in the pageant where everyone leaves with a trophy and a crown.

“I hope that my Miss You Can Do It girls leave this pageant knowing that, okay, we might fall down, or someone might stare at us, but I just did something amazing. Something that not very many people get to experience,” Curran said in a statement.

“Miss You Can Do It” premieres on HBO on June 24 at 9 p.m. ET.

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Comments (9 Responses)

  1. Thomas Neuville says:

    I hate to be a negative ned, but this appears to fall into the category of Easter Seals is at it again. I will withhold complete judgment until I have had an opportunity to see it. All the indicators are that what we have is yet another piece that supports the centuries old disability narrative of separate is better or “that special hero” story that ablest enjoy so much. The pre-release pictures look alarming like the old Jerry lewis telethons. manner hii

  2. marie camp says:

    This is wonderful, it will make young girls build up their self esteem and self confidence and I am very happy HBO took on this project and hopefully will set an example to other networks. Unfortunately, I don’t have HBO but good luck with show.

  3. Elizabeth McBride says:

    “what is in their heart and not by how their outfits look.”

    “everyone leaves with a trophy and a crown”

    How condescending !!

  4. Susan Johnson says:

    I have a friend whose 23 year old daughter participated in a similar pageant in our home state. It was a wonderful experience for her and her family and friends as well as the other young women involved. This is not like a Jerry Lewis telethon, this is young women getting to experience a life of footlights and glamour and to showcase their wonderful skills and abilities. It’s not for every woman but if it’s your thing it’s great to have the opportunity to try it and to compete. By the way, she won her division, showing that the years of dance lessons,singing in the choir and a can do spirit paid off.

  5. Cari Watrous says:

    I agree with many of the others that this certainly written as a condescending, warm fuzzy, spirited victims piece and I’ll one step further in saying that I think all beauty pagants are condescending … date back to a totally different concept of women than I have.

  6. Joyce says:

    My response to this article: “Separate is inherently unequal.”–Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, 1954.

  7. Sobia Fayyaz says:

    This is not only a step in the right direction but will also go a long way in building the self-esteem of young girls. But I don’t understand why there has to be a separate pageant and why do all participants walk away with trophies. I also wish we could revamp language surrounding ‘disability’. The word ‘disability’ itself has negative connotation and suggests limitations. If the term ‘special person’ replaced ‘disabled’ it is high time we discard the word disability and come up with more inclusive terms such as ‘speciability’.

  8. andymarie says:

    I had the opportunity to watch this documentary this weekend, and I must say I really enjoyed it. As a service provider specializing in Supported employment, I’m always focused on abilities, not disabilities. This show had that focus, along with letting these awesome young ladies fulfill a dream. Their joy at the event was apparent in their smiles and excitement. I don’t think it was condescending at all. It was more about giving these young ladies an opportunity they may not otherwise have gotten, boosting their self-esteem, and seeing that they are not alone. True friendships seemed to be made there amongst these girls and real support groups amongst the parents as well. It was really great to see. Don’t knock it til you watch it!

  9. cl novak says:

    the other party the audience and their level of education and tolerance of disabilities and understanding will be a controlling factor. Who determines the winner etc?

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