One-Armed Beauty Queen Wins Miss Iowa, Headed to Miss America Pageant

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 11, 2013   |   11:46AM   |   Washington, DC

Beauty in today’s culture is so often associated with perfection — to the point that magazines face criticism for airbrushed models and young women starve themselves in order to obtain the super-thin body necessary to make it big.

But one beauty queen is set to show the world that perfection isn’t necessary to be a gorgeous beauty queen who has a chance to become Miss America.

Over the weekend, Nicole Kelly was named Miss Iowa 2013 and now the blonde 23-year-old bombshell is headed to the national contest. That wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary, except Kelly was born with one arm.

Kelly is, by all other accounts, the typical stunning woman whose physical attractiveness would propel her to the national stage. But she was born missing her hand and forearm. That “disability” is not limiting her success.

“As I grew up, I learned to counterbalance the initial stares I received from people with an outgoing personality that would not give into ‘no,’” she wrote on the Iowa pageant site. “This means that I tried everything. From baseball, to dance, to diving — there is nothing I would not try. I found my passion within a world where I was giving people permission to stare: the stage.”

“If you would have told me a year ago that ‘pageant queen’ was in my future, I would have laughed,” she wrote. “Giving voice to a platform is a great honor and I am excited to continue my adventure of speaking out and touching lives.”

The Huffington Post has more on Kelly and her background:



Not only has the blonde beauty been crowned Miss Iowa, but she’s also made history as the first pageant winner with one arm with a shot at the Miss America title.

Nicole, who will go on to compete in the larger competition on September 15, was born without her left forearm. She found an outlet in the performing arts because, as she explains in her pageant profile, the stage offered “a world where I was giving people permission to stare.”

“It was a place where I could say ‘here I am, and I’m confident in myself,'” Nicole told CBS 4, whose anchor added, “Her real passion is to help others like her find their spotlight.”

After an internship on Broadway in New York City last summer, Nicole aspires to have a career as a Broadway stage manager, while working to help others overcome disabilities. “Giving voice to a platform is a great honor and I am excited to continue my adventure of speaking out and touching lives,” she told the Washington Times.

Nicole won over $10,000 in scholarship money from the competition. We’re excited to see where she goes next!


miss iowa one arm