This year’s Miss America Pageant was the most controversial in quite some time due to an Indian-American woman winning the crown and a memorable moment that saw a woman walking the stage during the swimsuit portion with her tattoos pridefully visible. Media used these two women to raise either racial remarks or disapproval of someone’s idea of beauty.
On Sept. 15, 2013, Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America in Atlantic City in front of thousands of audience members. Davuluri was holding the Miss New York title and is the first Indian-American woman to win the Miss America title. She performed a traditional Bollywood dance and her platform was Diversity Through Cultural Sensitivity.
America likes to pridefully claim to be the “melting pot”, yet in a competition as prestigious as Miss America, critics chose to have racial judgements towards her accomplishment just because they didn’t feel she looked like an American. What does an American look like? America is made up of a mixture of races including Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and so on. Davuluri had just as much of a right to win the competition as the rest of the contestants.
“It was something I wasn’t surprised about. I’d experienced those same kind of remarks when I’d won Miss New York and I knew if I won Miss America it would happen again,” said Davuluri.
Davuluri knew if she graced the Miss America stage, racial remarks would raise throughout the media. Yet, she pridefully walked across the stage and performed to her best abilities in all the events just like every other contestant. Also, along with Davuluri, Miss Kansas stole the media’s attention during the preliminary week with her tattoos, archery talent and also her six years of service in the military.
Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas, was informed the week of the pageant that her archery talent wasn’t allowed due to concerns over projectile objects. Vail changed her talent to Opera and sang “Nessun Dorma.” With her hard work during the preliminaries, Vail found herself in the top twelve, making it all the way to the talent part of the competition.
Society felt that if a woman with tattoos participated in a prestigious competition like Miss America, it wouldn’t be appropriate or beautiful. Who can say what true beauty is or isn’t? Society? The same people who influence young girls to do whatever it takes to be skinny and flawlessly beautiful? How does the color of someone’s skin or someone’s ethnic background determine beauty?