Sunday, July 20, 2014

When Beauty is More Than Skin Deep

Photo by Evan Brandt
Hannah Rasmussen, right, of South Coventry and Leigh Quinn will represent Pennsylvania in the Cinderella International Scholarship Pageant in Las Vegas this week. I met them as they prepared for Pottstown's Fourth of July Parade.
As you read these words, 11-year old Hannah Rasmussen is busy representing you in Las Vegas.

The South Coventry youngster is representing all of Pennsylvania in the Cinderella International Scholarship Pageant as the Pennsylvania Miss.

You may have seen her with the adult representing Pennsylvania in the pageant, Leigh Quinn, riding in a vintage blue Firebird in Pottstown Fourth of July parade, which is where I met them.

A student at French Creek Elementary School, Hannah "is really not a pageant kind of kid," said her mom Tracy.
Photo Courtesy of Tracy Rasmussen
Leigh Quinn and Hannah Rasmussen in Pottstown's
July 4th Parade.

But a brush with discrimination in the school yard led the family on an unusual path to dispel the potential damage to Hannah's self image.

Hannah and her twin sister Lizzie (who is a dancer) are adopted and of Puerto Rican, Native American and Irish descent.

"She came home crying one day in second grade and said a girl at school said her skin was too dark for her to play with them," said Tracy, who writes entertainment and feature articles for The Reading Eagle.

"Instead of marching into school as the angry mother, we tried to find ways we could show her that in a more diverse world, there are plenty of beautiful people with the same color skin and that her beauty is about more than the color of her skin," Tracy said.

And so they found the Cinderella International Scholarship Pageant, which had an event scheduled in King of Prussia.

"The group there was very diverse and its a lot like the Miss America contest, there's no make-up allowed and 50 percent of the score is talent, and Hannah has a beautiful voice, so she did well," Rasmussen said of her daughter.

The contest has five different age categories and a number of different prizes, particularly those that come in the form of scholarship bonds.

Prior to being named Pennsylvania Miss, Hannah had never won a crown "but that weekend she just sparkled and that was it," Rasumussen said.

But the competition just got bigger.

When Hannah last competed "there were 51 girls and there are going to be a lot more than that in Las Vegas," Rasmussen said.

So lets wish Hannah luck and hope she has a good time.

She has already made Pottstown proud.

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