A beauty pageant contestant, model and aspiring entrepreneur — who happens to be deaf — recently organized a fashion show to offer hearing-impaired people an outlet to express themselves.

Saki Oshiro, 26, who lost her hearing when she was 1, supervised every aspect of the show in Osaka on Dec. 7, from choosing outfits to producing the stage show.

About 50 men and women with hearing impairment became models walking on stage in eye-catching designs.

In an interview, Oshiro, who can lip-read and communicate without sign language, said the purpose of the show was to help hearing-impaired people, who tend to have “a reserved attitude,” feel confident.

In this sense, the fashion show appeared to be a success as some participants said they enjoyed the event very much.

Oshiro said she herself was “quiet and shy” when she was a child.

At elementary school, she was often harassed by classmates who called her unpleasant names to her face, saying Oshiro would not be able to hear or understand whatever they said about her.

But a lot has changed since she took part in the Miss Universe Japan pageant in 2009 on the recommendation of a friend.

Oshiro said she found joy in expressing herself and participated in the 2012 competition as well, when she was among the lucky few who were shortlisted.

She said she has since aimed to be a model so that she can “give courage to the deaf and hard of hearing through beauty.”

She also took part in the Miss & Mister Deaf International pageant in 2013, becoming the first Japanese contestant in the worldwide beauty competition for deaf people.

Oshiro has already become a celebrity in Okinawa, where she was born and raised.

She said her dream is to establish a company to help people with hearing difficulties get ahead in society.

“I hope my activity will motivate them to break out of their shell,” she said.

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