We all have our opinions about pageantry, most of us think that it’s nothing but pretty girls parading themselves around on stage and nothing more. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Ever since the banishment of the swimsuit competition from Miss America, things have taken a drastic turn and I’m confident that the masses will see pageants in a different light – no longer will we be viewed as brainless Barbie dolls, but real women who strive to make a difference. This is what I as a person with autism have held dear when I threw myself into the exciting world of pageantry.
So many people give me funny looks when I owe it all to pageantry as the thing that brought me out of my shell. I get so many questions from parents and kids my age alike –
“How could you do such a thing?”
“I never thought an autistic person would do a pageant!”
“But you’re so nice, you can’t be a pageant girl!”
Rachel Barcellona is a beauty pageant contestant and autism advocate currently Miss Manatee River and competed in the Miss Florida pageant. She also was Miss Florida International in 2016 and Miss Southeast International in 2017. She's also the first contestant to compete in Miss Florida with autism and first for Miss America since Alexis Wineman in 2013.