When it comes to independence Russia may be the last place people think of. However, this past Wednesday in Moscow 11 contestants took part in the 3rd Miss Independence Beauty Pageant, a beauty contest for women in wheelchairs. The contest was first held in April of 2012 and due to its success had a follow up contest in November of the same year.
The contest was formed to bring awareness to people with disabilities and to portray women in wheelchairs as beautiful and successful. The panel of judges for the event included public and state figures, business leaders and fashion experts.
According to the European Pressphoto Agency, Russia has over 13 million people with disabilities. Known for covering up perceived slights to their image, the Miss Independence Beauty Pageant is a huge step forward for Russia and has been sighted as a one of the few positive portrayals of people with disabilities in the country. This year’s event featured 11 contestants and when all was said and done the crown went to Nursina Galieva. The women who participated got to dress up in elegant formal wear, take turns dancing with able bodied partners and were joined by family and friends to celebrate their courage in working to change stereotypes.
Organizers for the event expressed their appreciation for the publicity the contest has received both locally and internationally. While Russia has events for people in wheelchairs that involve athletics and other physical skills the aim of the Miss Independence contest is to show the world how beautiful and elegant women in wheelchairs can be. Changing stereotypes is never easy but the brave women who take part in the Moscow pageant are doing their part to redefine what beautiful means.
For photos of the event click here.