Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Thanks for Defending Miss America, BUT...

Act #260:  Keep on being mad, America.

We crown the first dark brown Asian Miss America and the haters are making our blood boil with their appallingly racist tweets.  Social justice and feminist bloggers alike are fuming and furious over tweets following the pageant on Sunday night, calling the first Indian-American Miss America, Nina Davuluri, everything from Arab, foreigner, and Muslim, to Miss 7-11 and Miss Al-Qaida.  While I join you in this outrage, I can't help but ask, why stop there, America?  If you are that upset that Miss Davuluri is being subjected to such discrimination and hatred, you should probably also be upset that she is (as have all the Miss Americas since 1920) being subjected to far more than just these disgusting racist tweets. 

You should be mad that she has to parade around in her bra and underwear and dance in front of judges in order to qualify for a college scholarship.  You should be mad that Miss America first evolved as a ploy to keep tourists on the Atlantic City Boardwalk past labor day and began as a parade of young women being pushed along the Boardwalk in rolling chairs.  You should be mad that pageant organizers rewarded 1984, Miss America Vanessa Williams for flaunting her bikini-clad body on stage, but condemned her and took away her title when she went just a tad further and posed nude for Playboy magazine.  You should be mad that over a third of the possible points for the competition are for the swimsuit and evening gown portions (35%) and only 30% are for the combination of personal and on-stage interviews.  The remaining points (35%) are for the on-stage "talent" competition -  typically singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument - athletic talent is usually discouraged for safety reasons.

America, thanks for defending Miss America, but please don't stop there.  Sure, we should be mad that we are living in a country where ignorance, racism, and hatred still exist.   But we should be equally mad that we are living in a country where sexism, the objectification of women, and oppressive and unrealistic beauty standards also still exist. 

Note:  I have two dear friends who I respect and admire deeply who have competed in beauty pageants.  I'm talking intelligent, stellar individuals - one who now teaches in a low-performing, rural school and one who used to work for an upstanding non-profit organization.  These women have, over the years, helped me appreciate the service and scholarship side of beauty pageants.  More importantly, they helped me see the human being behind the beauty queen.  Thank you Djuan and Jamie, for being beautiful inside and out!


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  2. Talk about impossible standards - I'm never going to have dark skin and a long thin body like hers! Dang!