Before she lost her right leg above the knee, Whitney Lavender never considered herself beauty pageant material. A self-professed tomboy growing up, she spent more time on hunting and playing sports than on fashions and hairstyles. But a cascade of health issues (including right leg above-knee amputation) forced Lavender to reexamine her identity, her self-image, and her sense of what mattered most to her. She summoned courage and strength she never realized she had, and she developed new skills and attitudes that helped her build a new foundation for her life.

Now a powerful voice for people with rare diseases and disabilities, Lavender was named Ms. Texas Wheelchair USA in January. In a couple of weeks, she’ll participate in the Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant. We spoke with her last week about body image, comfort zones, self-advocacy, and more. See some of her thoughts in the short video clips below. We’ll upload the whole interview as soon as it’s available.

Follow Lavender on Instagram @whitscomplex. Here’s some information about how you can watch the Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant on a pay-per-view basis. And if you want to vote for Lavender in the people’s choice portion of the competition, click here.

Segment 1: Who Am I?

Segment 2: You Are Beautiful

Segment 3: Finding My Voice

Segment 4: Using My Platform

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