Wait, Miss America is… American???

Apparently a lot of people are shocked that the winner of Miss America 2014 is in fact American. Nina Davuluri isn’t Irish-American, or Scottish-American, or African-American. She didn’t look like an ‘us’ but a ‘them’ to white America. People expressed blatant racism when she won, and that led to this, a debate on whether Nina Davuluri could even win an Indian competition.

My two cents:

  • This woman is from New York– if anyone’s been to NY, you’d see that the state is comprised of multiple ethnic backgrounds, and a big chunk of those are Indian Americans. She represents her state, and the nation accordingly.
  • The ‘Arab world’, India, and America are in three very spaced apart regions. Miss Davuluri is from America. Also, the ‘Arab world’ is fucking worldwide. Muslims exist everywhere, and if an Arab and/or Muslim were to win Miss America, all the power to her.
  • There were a lot of comments about how Miss Kansas is the ‘real American woman’ because she’s blond, blue-eyed, serves our country and has tattoos. Newsflash: looks aren’t everything, all these women are trying to make a difference in their respective fields, and bottom line is that she didn’t crack the Top 5 (in which the majority of contestants were non-white Americans). Also, some would argue that tattoos are still highly taboo in this country- just ask any employer.
  • Not to knock the hard work and dedication of these women, but personally, the message of empowering women would be better received if these women did actually come ‘in all shapes and sizes’.

A few more rupees on the matter:

I was actually waiting for the second wave of debate to hit the news circle. The one citing that Miss America would never fare as well in Indian competitions. It’s true. She wouldn’t.

Skin color and Anglicization is a global issue, and Asia is one of the worst offending regions. The Indian caste system is closely related to skin color, and that whole British rule did nothing to help matters. ‘Fair’ has always been the beauty standard in the region. For India and other surrounding countries, this means investing billions of dollars in harmful whitening (bleaching) products (They even go as far as vagina whitening). The highest rates of plastic surgery occur in Asian countries like South Korea, Japan, and China where eyelid surgery and nose jobs are common. In fact, Davuluri had to answer a question during the competition in relation to Julie Chen’s recent reveal about her plastic surgery.

Not to belabor the point, but this white standard holds true in Mexico, Central, and South American countries as well. Telenovela stars, as well as news anchors are chosen based on this. Modern Family’s naturally-blond darling Sophia Vergara is a prominent example.

This is yet another obstacle placed upon women. Not only are we not good enough as we are, but there are these global societal norms placed upon our bodies in which just being ourselves isn’t cutting it. The message received is that you need to mold and cut your body to look a certain way to gain any semblance of power, any ideal of beauty. Be thin, be anglicized, and be white.

It’s important to realize that these are the reasons that anorexia, bulimia, botched surgeries, low self-esteem, and suicides can occur. Since it is embedded in our global economy, it becomes essential to educate ourselves and understand that this is all profiteering against our bodies. Hell, even Miss America had an eating disorder! Miss Davuluri shed half a person before she entered the competition. If she looked now like she looked then, maybe Miss Kansas would’ve had a fighting chance at the title.

To end on a lighter note, I give you the vagina bleaching commercial:

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