Psychology student crowned first disabled Vietnamese beauty queen

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Nguyen Thi Anh Ngoc, 21, a third-year psychology student born with Scoliosis, refers to herself as a "bent candle" that "must burn wholeheartedly" to live her life

Nguyen Thi Anh Ngoc, 21, edged out other nine contenders to win the coveted crown at Vietnam's first beauty pageant for women with disabilities on April 14.

The 2013 Ve Dep Vang Trang Khuyet (Beauty of the Crescent Moon) is the first-ever Vietnamese beauty contest which seeks to recognize women with disabilities for their confidence, courage, intelligence and talent. 

Ten finalists five of them bound to wheelchairs were chosen from more than 70 applicants nationwide to attend the contest's finale in Hanoi, which included three rounds: outfit of choice, ao dai (Vietnamese traditional attire) and a talent competition.

Five of the ten moved on to the interview segment in which they were asked to comment on the following statement: "Candles, whether straight or bent, burn brightly when lighted."

Ngoc, a resident of the northern province of Hai Duong, explained in the interview that she was born with Scoliosis a condition in which the spine is curved abnormally and had to wear orthopedic jackets for years starting at the age of four. She underwent an unsuccessful spine surgery ten years later and has resigned to being confined to a wheelchair for life.

Despite her condition, Ngoc excelled in school and passed the university entrance exam. She is now in her third year as a psychology student at the Hanoi University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

She referred to herself as "a candle that was bent twice," adding that "destiny made me become a bent candle, but that bent candle is growing up and about to shine.

"Whether flawed or perfect, we must burn wholeheartedly to live our lives," Ngoc said.    

Nguyen Thi Hau, 29, and Nguyen Thi Thu Hien, 26, both of whom cannot walk and rely on wheelchairs, finished in second and third places. Hau is a senior at Hanoi Medical College and runs her own tailor shop; Hien works in marketing in Hanoi. They are both married.

The contest was co-held by the Hanoi Youth with Disability Association, NGOs Center for Supporting Community Development Initiatives, Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population and Sustainable Health Development Center (Viethealth).

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