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This Puerto Rican Beauty Is The First Miss Alabama Beauty Pageant Contestant In 20 Years And It’s About Time

What comes to mind when you think of a “beauty queen”? If images of blonde-haired, blue-eyed Southern girls with money to blow come to mind, you wouldn’t be in the minority.

Kailee Grace Montes, the 22-year-old Latina of Puerto Rican descent competing in the Miss Alabama beauty pageant, is trying to change all that.

In 2019, Montes was the first Latina in 20 years to compete in the Miss Alabama competition. Not only that, but Montes was one of only five of the 47 girls competing who identified as a minority.

According to Montes, she was initially attracted to the idea of participating in pageants for the same reason many Latinas pick up a side-hustle: to pay for college. And it worked! Montes racked up enough scholarship money to pay for two years of college after winning Miss Mobile Bay 2019. But the earnings weren’t the only thing that attracted Montes: “I also thought that pageants were a way I could give back to the community,” Montes said. Specifically, Montes was excited to bring a spotlight to the Boys and Girls Club of America, an after-school program for young adults. But being a Latina competing in a majority-white state meant that Montes had her work cut out for her.

The last–and only–Latina that has won the Miss America Pageant was Paraguay-born Sharlene Wells Hawkes in 1985.

The prevalence of Latina participation in beauty pageants in other parts of the world makes it that more shocking that Latinas are so few and far between in US-based pageants. Although Montes was the first Latina contestant in the Alabama pageant in 20 years, beauty pageants are a common part of many young women’s lives in much of Latinidad. Countries like Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil have a rich history of beauty pageants, with over one-third of total Miss Universe winners coming from the region.

As for Montes, she’s admitted that being one of the only minorities in the Miss Alabama pageant was a challenging experience: “I feel like I’m one of the few who understands the plights minorities have to go through,” Montes said during an interview with NBC News during semifinals

Although Montes placed in the Top 12 in the Miss Alabama competition, she’s not giving up yet.

She plans on continuing to enter pageants and has hopes of one-day attending law school. But, in the end, she hopes that her presence in the Miss Alabama pageant has been an example of what Latinas can accomplish, even with the odds stacked against them.

“As Latinas, we can make any change,” Montes said. “We can change the tone and the cultural temperature by stepping up, speaking out and working together”.

Young Girl Flips Off Audience At Christmas Pageant And Social Media Is Loving It

Entertainment

Young Girl Flips Off Audience At Christmas Pageant And Social Media Is Loving It

Carla Bovingdon / Facebook

A little girl cast as an angel in her very first nativity play is being celebrated by the Internet for flipping off the entire audience for at least 20 minutes. Young Ella made an unforgettable stage debut when she walked out to the stage, sought out to see where her mom was sitting and flipped the bird. “Bless mason and Ella in their school play, it’s just a shame Ella spent the whole time trying to show me she’d hurt her middle finger ????????‍♀️????????,” Ella’s mom, Carla Bovingdon, shared to Facebook along with the hilarious photos of her angelic daughter. According to Bovingdon, Ella just really likes to show her mom when she’s hurt herself. Once Bovingdon shared the picture of innocence with the Facebook world, little Ella’s debut stage performance went viral.

Now, we’re all hurting with stitches from laughing so hard. ????

The moment Ella walked out onto the stage, she searched the crowd to find her mom and concertedly waved her middle finger in the air for her mom to see.

CREDIT: CARLA BOVINGDON / FACEBOOK

At first, Bovingdon was horrified and kept asking Ella to put her finger down. “I was thinking, ‘oh god, Ella please stop.’ Because she was doing it so innocently I think most people were thinking, ‘oh bless her,'” Bovingdon told Manchester Evening News. “I was like put ya hand down????????‍♀️ ????” Bovingdon later commented on her now-viral Facebook post.

Bovingdon was more embarrassed than amused at first, but after she saw a few people giggling in the audience, she was able to accept that her daughter was not going to let up. “The performance was about half-an-hour long, and I would say 70 percent of it she had her middle finger up. Now after people have had a laugh I can see the funny side of it,” she told the outlet.

All Ella was trying to do was show her mom her “injury.”

CREDIT: CARLA BOVINGDON / FACEBOOK

“She likes to let me know if she’s at all injured, so she was basically trying to show me what she had done from across the room. It was the tiniest little hangnail as well,” Bovingdon told Manchester Evening News. Later, Bovingdon shared an image of Ella’s tragic injury, saying “This is the tiny cut she was trying to show me ????????‍♀️????????????.” If you look closely, you see a little bit of redness around Ella’s bird finger cuticle. While Ella just had a hangnail, it’s easy to forget how concerning it probably was the very first time we all had a hangnail or ripped skin around our cuticles. We’ve all become hardened now to the feeling, but Ella was the definition of innocence that night.

At one point, Ella put up two middle fingers just so she could compare her ‘injured’ finger to her other finger.

CREDIT: CARLA BOVINGDON / FACEBOOK

Little Ella only had eyes for her middle fingers for the duration of the school play. When Ella decided to pull her middle fingers together side by side, essentially becoming the angelic version of Eminem, her mom decided she just had to accept that Ella was going to do what she wanted. At the very least, the nativity scene must have taught Bovingdon the gift of “serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”

“Had to be my kid ????????‍♀️????” Bovingdon would later comment on social media. 

We’re so glad this real-life angel could brighten up so many people’s day.

CREDIT: CARLA BOVINGDON / FACEBOOK

“Oh my word that is hilarious ????????thank you Ella for cheering up a gloomy Tuesday ????????,” commented one family friend. “This keeps popping up on my feed and I’m literally laughing at it every time ???????????? hilarious,” commented another friend.

The best part about Ella’s stage presence is that, according to her mom, “she was completely oblivious ????.” Her family and friends are suggesting that she hold onto the photos and wait until young Ella is a ripe 18-year-old and can enjoy a proper laugh from her naivete. In the meantime, her mom has tried to convey what it means that she’s gone viral, but she still doesn’t get it. At first, Bovingdon told Manchester Evening News that, Ella “wanted to say thank you to everyone for liking her picture, but then she said, ‘I don’t know what’s funny though’. She doesn’t get what the joke is.”

One day, Ella. One day.

READ: Check Out Some Of The Most Tiny And Adorable Nacimientos

Alabama Abortion Activists Scored A Major Win As Federal Judge Blocks Near-Total Abortion Ban

Things That Matter

Alabama Abortion Activists Scored A Major Win As Federal Judge Blocks Near-Total Abortion Ban

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A federal judge has temporarily halted a near-total abortion ban from going into effect in Alabama, originally slated for enforcement on November 15. That decision, made by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, blocks all of the near-total abortion bans passed by red states this year. The law would have criminalized both doctors who perform abortions and the women who receive them, with no exception for rape or incest victims. Doctors who performed the procedure would be faced with prison sentences up to 99 years.

While this is all very good news for women, especially the rapidly growing Latino population in Alabama, the decision just brings the question of abortion closer to the Supreme Court, where anti-abortion legislators hope to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“It defies the United States Constitution,” writes U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson.

Credit: @ResistMoveTRM / Twitter

Alabama’s Human Life Protection Act “violates Supreme Court precedent,” because it bans abortion before the fetus is viable, Thompson writes. Thompson goes on to discuss the irreparable harm that enforcement of the ban would cause while awaiting the court to decide on the matter. “Enforcement of the ban would yield serious
and irreparable harm violating the right to privacy and preventing women from obtaining abortions in
Alabama.”

Thompson puts it bluntly: “A near-total ban imposes
substantial costs on women,” he concludes, referring to the financial and emotional cost on women who are unable to obtain an abortion, along with the women who would be so desperate, they may attempt to self-abort at great risk to their own health.

All this to say that Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, and Utah are all still places women can legally exercise their reproductive rights.

Credit: @zeroultra4 / Twitter

As quickly as these states passed their severely restrictive abortion bans, some that were so early in the pregnancy that most women aren’t even aware that they’re pregnant yet, the ACLU filed a lawsuit. As the non-profit announced the news, supporters flooded Twitter with comments like “HELL YEAH” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the work that you do!”

Of course, just as many opponents of the decision have made their opinion heard, too. “The ACLU used to defend free speech. Now they advocate infanticide,” tweets one Richie Angel. Latinas might be the loudest voices yet, because one Maria Florencia Freijo responded to Richie, “Callate pelotudo. Shut UP.”

Abortion restrictions disproportionately affect low-income POC, and legislators know it.

Credit: @globalissuesweb / Twitter

“Many Latinxs understand that these bans only serve to hurt our community,” Maria Elena Perez, Deputy Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) told POPSUGAR. “What we know to be true about these restrictions is that they disproportionately affect low-income people of color who are forced to travel long distances and pay high costs to obtain abortion care. People with means will always seek abortion care somewhere else. And undocumented Latinx immigrants, many of whom cannot travel for fear of detention and deportation, have even fewer options.”

In fact, research shows that the majority of Latinxs, regardless of religious faith, don’t want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

When the Alabama ban was initially passed in March, a #YouKnowMe hashtag was born.

Credit: @gomezb1013 / Twitter

Amidst the initial fury that Alabama lawmakers elected to force any child or adult who was raped by a stranger or family member to carry the baby to full-term, women rallied. They flooded the Alabama statehouse and, if they couldn’t, they shared their abortion stories on social media under the hashtag #YouKnowMe. 

Once again, women must actively humanize themselves and their experiences for the men in power to listen. It shouldn’t matter if it’s your mother, your sister, or your daughter, because we’re full-fledged human beings who deserve rights no matter what we mean to you. For so many women, #YouKnowMe became a way to lift the shame around abortion and empower young women to choose how they want to start a family.

Women across America are celebrating the victory.

Credit: @jess_ez / Twitter

The fight is far from over. “As we have stated before, the State’s objective is to advance our case to the US Supreme Court,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said, “where we intend to submit evidence that supports our argument that Roe and Casey were wrongly decided and that the Constitution does not prohibit states from protecting unborn children from abortion.” That leads many concerned over women’s reproductive rights, given the Supreme Court’s most recent Justice, Brett Kavanaugh.

READ: Google Maps Has Been Directing Women In Search Of Abortion Clinics To Anti-Choice Clinics