Last night, my roommate and I were trying to find something to watch on our incredibly spare list of channels. We wound up settling on having the 2014 Miss America Competition on in the background while we chatted, but we gradually got more engrossed in the program as time went on. Why? Well, a number of cool things happened.
Not only did an expert archer Army sergeant with tattoos compete (Theresa Vail, AKA Miss Kansas, if you’ll recall) and a woman performed an incredible baton twirling routine despite having two torn ligaments and a rhinestoned brace (Myrrhanda Jones, AKA Miss Florida), but a new milestone was set: the first ever Indian-American Miss America was crowned, with Nina Davuluri, AKA Miss New York, being named the competition’s winner.
In her first post-win press conference in Atlantic City, Davuluri said this:
“I’m so happy this organization has embraced diversity. I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.”
To me, this is amazing. But that’s not even the coolest part! Well, besides the fact that Davuluri is from Syracuse (my hometown) and therefore is cooler than everyone else anyway.
The first runner up, Crystal Lee (Miss California), is also an Asian American woman! As you readers are probably very aware, Asian American women are deeply underrepresented in the mainstream media, particularly in the modeling and entertainment worlds (just as with all women of color, sadly). So, to have the final two women in the Miss America competition — which, while being a silly outdated pageant, inarguably represents quite a bit about what America finds beautiful — be women of Asian descent…well, that is incredible.
Looking at group photos of contestants from decades past, there is an obvious lack of diversity. 40 years ago, the idea of an Indian American woman doing a Bollywood routine onstage for the talent portion would’ve likely been dismissed entirely; today, it is a shining example of the competition reflecting our country’s ever-changing ideals on beauty, culture and aptitude.
My roommate, who is of Chinese descent, had tears in her eyes when the final two women were left standing on the stage. While this may be antiquated competition, it is still meaningful to so many who have waited a long, long time to see people who look like them be declared beautiful on such a widely watched stage.
Now, for the terrible news: a massive number of people are being insanely racist about her. Screenshots via Buzzfeed:
Yeah. Just another ugly reminder that some people still can’t accept different kinds of beauty, as in “non-white” beauty.
Photos: Getty Images.