“I WANT A PURPLE MUSTANG and I want to drive it to Florida” isn’t an answer you’d expect to hear at a typical beauty pageant, but the Miss You Can Do It Pageant is anything but typical. Founded in 2004 by Abbey Curran, the first Miss USA contestant with cerebral palsy (and only the second with a disability), it’s the event of the year for 50 girls with special needs and challenges.
It’s not just the kids who take the contest seriously, though. “Recently we’ve had contestants whose siblings must be in those ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ types of pageants,” Curran says, “[because] their moms come in and ask, ‘What brand of sunless tanning are you going to use on my child?’”
This month, Miss You Can Do It will take center stage in a new HBO documentary of the same name. While Curran, now a grad student, is happy the contestants are being recognized, she doesn’t think that special needs should translate into special treatment.
“My mom has an obsession with rugs. For me, these are the worst things in the world—I drag my feet and I trip on them,” she says. “And do you know what my mother says? ‘Pick up your feet!’” JUNE 24