'You Are Beautiful' Pageant Teaches Special Needs Women That They Deserve to Shine


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we live in a world that is sometimes fixated on appearances. One beauty pageant may have you changing your mind about what true beauty means.

The “You are Beautiful Pageant” in South Carolina was different. There were still girls of all ages in fancy gowns and plenty of makeup and hair to be done.

But this pageant, held at the Civic Center of Anderson, was special; it was a pageant that showcased the inner light of those who would walk the stage.

You Are Beautiful was the first pageant for young people with special needs at the center. The beauty could be felt shining from the inside out as the contestants strutted with pride down the runway.

It was a night to remember — not only for the contestants and their escorts, but for family and friends as well.

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One of the creators of the pageant, Raegan McCullough, spoke to the contestants. “This is because you are worthy of it,” she said.

“This is because you were born for the spotlight. You have this inner light inside of you.”

The event began with a rehearsal that was magical and set the mood. Contestants practiced their walks and poses down the hallways as the excitement for the event began to bubble up.

One contestant, Kathleen Stoller, was on cloud nine. “I’m so happy,” she said. Stoller loved Disney Princesses and could not wait to be transformed into one for the pageant.

As Stoller made her way to the runway stage, she held her dress out in true princess fashion. The joy that she felt could be seen in her movements, as she twirled around the stage. Her true inner beauty radiated across the room.

There were girls in wheelchairs, girls blowing kisses to the audience and turning circles to show off a rainbow of colors in their gowns. The escorts weren’t too shabby either, dressed in suits and tuxes.

Family packed the audience, clapping and cheering on contestants. It was a day to feel special in a different way, pretty and important and proud.

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Everyone was a winner. Awards were handed out for Best Runway Eyes, Miss Photogenic, and Best Hair. Stoller took the crown for Miss Runway Diva.

As a grand finally, The Queens were led onto the red carpet for a fun photo opp.

The day left everyone with a better understanding of what true beauty was.

Focusing on the inner light that shines in everyone, these more than special kids were an example of the deeper beauty that we should all strive for.

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