When Jordan Somer started the Miss Amazing Pageant in 2007, she envisioned an event where women and girls with disabilities could walk onstage and carry themselves with confidence. Now, the two-day event is staged alongside the Special Olympics and includes over 100 contestants from across the country, some of whom look forward to the event all year.
But this is not your standard beauty pageant. There is no swimsuit portion, not a whiff of competitiveness. Instead, Miss Amazing is all about self-confidence, celebrating individuality, and giving girls and women with disabilities the change to shine. The event is divided into eight different age groups, who each participate in a talent showcase (including things like singing, dancing, gymnastics, hockey maneuvers, and magic) and an evening-wear portion, where they are escorted by dates and hunky men from the local fire department.
Photographer Michelle Groskopf took a backstage look at the pageant, where she watched the girls primp, practice their talents, and eventually parade onstage beaming with confidence. At the end, every contestant received a crown—and yes, these pageant queens cry too.