First Woman With Down Syndrome Competes in Miss Minnesota Pageant

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
November 28, 2017 Updated: November 28, 2017

A woman has become the first person with down syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

Mikayla Holmgren, a student at Bethel University, has been called a trailblazer after competing at the pageant in Burnsville and receiving Spirit of Miss USA award, and the Director’s Award, Fox News reported.

Denise Wallace, executive co-director of Miss Minnesota USA, told People earlier this year that Holmgren is “the epitome of what the Miss Universe Organization strives to look for in contestants — someone who is confidently beautiful.”

Holmgren is no stranger to pageantry. Two years ago, she participated in the national Junior Miss Amazing, a pageant for girls and women with disabilities, in Los Angeles and was crowned Minnesota Junior Miss Amazing 2015.

“I want the whole world to see that I can do things that are hard and that people with Down syndrome are beautiful and talented,” she told StarTribune in April this year.

Holmgren’s participation reflects how beauty ideals are becoming more diverse. Last year in the same pageant, A. Halima Aden, a Somali-American woman became a semifinalist being the first person to compete wearing a hijab.

Jordan Buckellew, the director of Minnesota Miss Amazing, told StarTribute in April that “beauty isn’t a box that we can fit in.”

“We’re stepping away from the Miss Congeniality vibe where everyone has blond hair and blue eyes. That’s not what we accept or define as beauty anymore,” Buckellew said.

The 22-year-old is determined to show that her disability does not define her. As an accomplished dancer, Holmgren has demonstrated an unyielding self-confidence that has been inspiring other people.

“I want the world to know that Down Syndrome does not define me. With your help, I can help break through walls,” she wrote on her GoFundMe page.



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Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.