‘Celebrating diversity through cultural competency’ is the platform of the newly crowned Miss America, Ms. Nina Davuluri. She is the first Indian-American ever to be crowned Miss America, and this year was also the first time the pageant had 5 finalists of Asian descent.
While some may dismiss the crowning of a minority woman as nothing new, citing Vanessa Williams being crowned 30 years ago, it is still very meaningful to all of the Indian and Asian children out there to know that beauty is celebrated in all colors and varieties. It gives a sense of belonging, and acceptance in beauty, in a country that is celebrated as a “melting pot”.
While many celebrated, there was also an outpouring of misinformed hatred that was heartbreaking.
However, the racist comments actually highlight what is at the core of the new Miss America’s platform: cultural competency. Cultural competency begins with understanding other cultures.
Twitter has become a learning tool for those mistakenly thinking Indians and Arabs were the same thing, or India and Indonesia were the same place, or that being Indian means you are Muslim, or that Indians had anything to do with Al-Qaida or 9/11, etc.
Such profound ignorance may have gone unchecked without the discussion triggered by the crowning of an Indian-American as Miss America. While each person is free to dislike whomever they please, the dislike should at least be based on things that are true. At least this win has sparked a debate that will hopefully provide some education.
Congratulations to Ms. Nina Davuluri on being crowned Miss America, and having the strength to withstand a social media whirlwind sparked by her win.
Back to the topic of beauty, plastic surgery has long been faulted as making women clones of each other with one vision of “beauty”, one that women of all ethnicities painstakingly tried to emulate.
Ms. Davuluri commented on plastic surgery stating that rather than changing your looks, “Be proud of who you are”. Events such as this challenge that singular vision of beauty, and lead to more diverse looks becoming accepted as beautiful.
It really encourages young women to embrace their own unique brand of beauty, which in turn affects their self-esteem as young women and the choices they make in life. It is important for young girls to see you can be beautiful and smart and accepted no matter what your background is, and also that you can aim to be both beautiful and smart, not just one or the other. Congratulations again to Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014.