Autism Mother Objects to Beauty Pageant Award

Tahnee Myles

Tahnee Myles (Courtesy: Fiona Hamilton of the Herald Sun)

Melbourne, Australia brings us a bizarre story about a mother of a little girl with autism who entered her daughter in a child beauty contest with neurotypical fellow contestants and is now protesting its outcome.

Leonie Myles was shocked and furious when her nine-year-old daughter, Tahnee, won a prize for best personality, despite her autism. She contended that her daughter’s lack of social skills could not possibly qualify her for best personality and was offended by the prize, as if it were some sort of cruel joke.

The judges maintained the contest was about making children feel good about themselves and stood by their decision.

One look at a picture of Tahnee shows a radiant little girl, full of exuberance and warmth. 

Are good social skills really necessary to have a great personality? I think not. 

The unfiltered exuberance of a child with autism, their spontaneity and presence in the moment are true gifts. Yes, they can meltdown, yes they can careen through social situations without a clue, but personality is an inner light shared with the world. This mother is sending a negative message to her daughter by objecting to this award.

My personal feelings about child beauty pageants are entirely negative and a very vocal segment of Melbourne’s population is of the same mind.

There is a pageant for special needs children that operates out of Arizona and perhaps the mother of this little girl could channel her energy towards creating something similar in her own country.

6 Responses to Autism Mother Objects to Beauty Pageant Award

  1. lantern says:

    Sorry the Mom took feels that way.
    I agree with the writer of this article, that a good personality doesn’t necessarily include good social skills.

    Although, I have some misgivings about putting children in “beauty contests”. Don’t kids have enough to deal with, without being judged on the bases of aesthetics.

  2. Susan says:

    Stage moms always argue that their daughters want to do the pageants, but who cues them to want to? It’s difficult to believe that the impulse comes from within.

  3. Debbie K. says:

    Even though my son is “socially awkward,” we’re lucky that he has friends who accept and like him. He is loving and affectionate, funny, smart and a loyal friend. At times he’s a little too serious (my friend once described him as “earnest”), but he’s a sweet boy. I wouldn’t change his personality for the world. It’s who he is.

  4. Toni says:

    I am not sure my daughter’s friends would vote her best personality, but despite her ASD, they adore her. She is only 6, I pray she continues to have adoring friends and not people who take advantage. What a shame the mom can’t see that her ASD child can indeed have a beautiful personality.

  5. Jamie says:

    I am in disbelief that a mom would feel this way. Personally, I have seen children bloom through pageants and have seen many young girls who really LOVE doing pageants. They watch Miss USA or Miss America on television and want to do the same. My daughters don’t have disabilities, but they both gained confidence, interview skills and learned a lot about putting their best selfs forward through pageants. I have worked with special needs children in many events and am organizing a pageant for those girls now. I hope the parents here understand that pageants can be such a rewarding experience. And if your daughter doesn’t enjoy it, by all means, quit, just like any other activity.

  6. Susan says:

    Thanks for your perspective and for working with and for special needs kids.


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