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In the past beauty pageants haven’t necessarily been known for their drive towards diversity. But, things have been changing of late. Not only has the beauty element started to take a back seat, but there has been a positive move to encourage the idea that all bodies are beautiful.
And never was that more apparent than this weekend when contestant Justine Clark became the first Australian woman in a wheelchair to compete in the Miss World Australia contest.
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The 26-year-old was taking part in the state’s final in Adelaide and was determined to prove that pageants could and should be an accepting place for all women.
“I want the catwalk to be a fair and inclusive place for everyone,” she told The Advertiser.
“A wheelchair does not define me or limit me. I can still be strong, feminine and beautiful.”
Justine, who suffers from a lower leg deformity, has been in a wheelchair for two years, but has not yet opened up about the circumstances surrounding it.
“I don’t really want to go in to what happened but I want to be a role model and empower young women,” she said.
Competing as part of the competition’s ‘Beauty With a Purpose’ movement, Justine was keen to help inspire others and spread an empowering message about body positivity.
“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.”
On Sunday, Justine Clarke became the first Australian woman in a wheelchair to compete in the Miss World Australia contest. ???????????? #Pageant #MissWorld #MissAustralia #MissWorldAustralia #BeautyQueen
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The Miss World national director Deborah Miller said Miss Clark’s involvement in the pageant was proof that “beauty comes in all forms”.
“I think Justine is incredibly inspirational, actually, and she really embodies what Miss World is all about,” she said.
Though she didn’t make it through to the next stage of the competition, Justine hopes to continue working with children’s charity Variety which the pageant supports, and smashing down stereotypes in the process.
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