Miss You Can Do It

7:18:00 PM

Disclaimer: I traditionally do not agree with beauty pageants. I dislike the fact they emphasize very specific notions of beauty and what it means to be a girl in America. I hate that they reinforce the notion that the female body is an object that should be judged based on heteronormative ideals. I also hate that it encourages young women to fit into a very specific model of "femininity".  I'm a feminist, the objectification of the female body irks me.

However, I will say the documentary "Miss You Can Do It" was incredible.  Abbey Curran, the first ever Miss America Contestant with a disability, created the Miss You Can Do It Pageant for young women with developmental and physical disabilities.  In this HBO documentary, the crew follows eight young girls with various disabilities competing in the pageant.  I sobbed.  But I also felt uplifted.  These young women were encouraged to be confident in who they are and to believe that they are beautiful both inside and out.  And they truly were beautiful girls.  This documentary showed each and everyone of them as individuals with their own hopes and dreams.

Every girl received a makeover (that were very tasteful for girls, no spray tans or flippers here) and got to dress up in something they thought was pretty. They bonded with the other contestants (and Disney princess look-a-likes) at a pizza party.  As part of the process, each girl is interviewed even if she can't communicate clearly.  Through this, they are each encouraged to not only have a voice but to use it.  Sure there's formal wear and casual wear, but it doesn't seem similar to the strutting and parading present in traditional pageants.  Several of the girls who were filmed had used the goal of walking across the stage as their motivation in physical therapy.  For many it took courage to stand up in front of a crowd.  Every contestant receives an award whether it's pageant queen or most likely to be a good friend.

Unlike many documentaries, it showed these young women and their families as strong, beautiful, and smart.  It highlighted the positive bonds these girls formed amongst themselves.  Many of these young women come back year after year because not only is it a chance to meet up with friends from previous pageants, but also because most come from communities where they don't have other friends with disabilities.  Events like the pizza party try to encourage healthy relationships between girls.  Parents were able to reach out to other parents, to form support amongst each other.  Unlike other pageants where parents are competitive and trying to get their little girl to do some sort of crazy dance and get upset when their daughter doesn't take home Grand Supreme (I've seen enough "Toddlers and Tiaras" to confirm this phenomena), they are cheering not only for their own daughter, but all the other girls too.

Just watching the trailer makes me a little teary eyed.  Not because it's sad, but because it's so inspirational and genuinely beautiful. If you have HBO, I highly recommend watching it. 

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