The Miss America pageant was on Sunday night, and no, just like the Miss USA pageant, I didn’t watch it. In fact, I can confidently say that the last pageant I watched with any real interest was when N*Sync performed at the Miss Teen USA pageant, and unless they do that again, I’m probably not going to watch. And yet, the social media sphere has been all a-twitter about it so here I am, blogging about another pageant.
So, here is the new Miss America, Nina Davuluri. I only bothered to find out more about her after happening across this post from Buzzfeed, which shows a parade of insanely racist tweets about this woman, who is Indian-American.
After reading those I felt crazy angry, and frankly, embarrassed as a white person in this country. *I’m still recovering from the Trayvon Martin stuff. When a portion of our population (which is probably small, but loud) actually equates, with no evidence, that “not white” automatically means “un-American,” we seriously need to stop pretending that we live in a post-racial society and that racism isn’t still a thing. Although as NPR showed in their article regarding the bogus criticism, lots of folks were quick to point out that in fact, Nina’s winning, as an Indian-American is the epitome of the American dream realized. America is still a melting pot, ya’ll, get the fuck over it :). What actually moved me past the anger part of my reaction was the realization that, ironically, when these idiots were harping on about how “un-American” Nina was, and how this blonde-haired, blue eyed girl should have been crowned, they sounded like total Nazis, lamenting that their Aryan princess *should* have won. Cuz, you know, Nazi-like sentiments are pretty much a lot more un-American than an actual US citizen who happens to have dark (and beautiful) skin winning the damn pageant. Silly racists. I got a laugh and moved on.
Anywho, since this stupid “controversy” was what made me hear of Davuluri, I wanted to learn more about her, as I’m sure she doesn’t want these bigoted tweets to be what her winning was all about.
So, Davuluri is actually an incredibly smart woman, and seems to be pretty
cool all around. She has a degree in freaking brain behavior and cognitive science, and she’s going to be a doctor. She’s shared her struggles with bulimia, weight gain, and speaks pragmatically and openly about both. On top of that, her platform for running for Miss American was all about diversity, she even performed a Bollywood fusion dance as her talent.
Davuluri also strikes a chord with me because she acknowledged her role in a larger cultural context; before she was announced the winner, it was between her and Miss California, who is Chinese-American. She noted, “We’re both so proud. We’re making history right here, standing here as Asian-Americans.” After winning, she also said in her first press conference that this win will mean a lot to so many young girls out there when they see that perhaps the pageant, in at least some ways is far more diverse and inclusive than it has been in the past.
We know that it is IMPERATIVE for young girls to see accurate reflections of themselves in the media. Having someone like Nina Davuluri, not only the first Indian-American woman to be crowned, but someone who genuinely appears to be intelligent, thoughtful, and yes, beautiful, is pretty damn great.
I still believe pageants are inherently sexist, in fact, the word “meat market” inevitably comes to mind, BUT since these are still popular it IS a big step to have a more diverse group of women not only compete, but actually win. However I will withhold doing back flips until they start to have women who weigh more than 125 pounds 😉