It’s not unusual to hear about controversies stirred up by beauty pageants — Miss Teen USA’s cringe-worthy faux pas, Miss Hawaii’s eyebrow-raising question, and even Steve Harvey’s infamous Miss Universe blunder are just a few examples. But every once in a while, they take a huge step forward, like Miss Teen USA’s decision to eliminate the swimsuit competition and this Miss World Australia contestant who just broke a major pageant boundary.
Justine Clark is a 26-year-old who has the long blonde hair and sparkling white teeth of the classically gorgeous beauty queen type. In a lovely gown with a floral lace top and smooth, silky skirt, she looked right at home with the other contestants.
What makes her stand out is the fact that Clark is in a wheelchair.
“I don’t really want to go into what happened,” she told The Advertiser while speaking of the reason she uses a wheelchair. “But I want to be a role model and empower young women… for somebody in a wheelchair to be able to compete is a big thing. I really hope it sends a message that no matter what your race, size or disability — whatever makes you different — you are beautiful.”
Miss World Australia claims to “create and empower role models who will serve as ambassadors to charity, enrich the perception of beauty, and enhance a new strength, energy, and spirit for the advancement of women, while positively impacting their communities.” It certainly seems like Justine Clark may have what it takes to do just that.
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(h/t Cosmopolitan; photo via LisaIson/Getty)