Haters Gonna Hate: The Hollow Victory of an Asian American Miss America

September 18, 2013

Does it though? (Screenshot via ABC News)

This week, the internet is abuzz over the new Miss America, Nina Davuluri, who is the first Indian American to win the pageant. The winner's circle included two other Asian Americans: Miss California Crystal Lee as first runner-up, and Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh as fourth runner-up. It was an historic night, no doubt, but as an Asian American woman, the win comes with a lot of mixed feelings.

Most of those feelings are confusion and surprise. Ratings for Miss America, and thus, the 93-year-old pageant's relevance, have been on a steady decline for years now. I personally can't name a single Miss America since Vanessa Williams was stripped of the crown. While Davuluri and Lee both made history within the Miss America pageant, I'm reluctant to see this as a significant step forward for Asian Americans in general. I know, haters gonna hate, but hear me out.

It's hard not to see this as a bone thrown from an institution that has actively perpetuated and upheld Eurocentric standards of beauty for as long as its been in existence. Yes, what a wonderful thing to finally be validated by a system that exists to objectify women's bodies, a system that should have been killed with fire long ago. I'm sure this has nothing to do with ratings or breathing life into this dying institution.

First, it came out just days before the pageant that Davuluri was caught on tape fat-shaming other beauty queens, somewhat counterintuitive to her confession of having struggled with bulimia in the past. This may be par for the course when it comes to beauty pagent behavior, but having read about this earlier in the week, it was hard for me to position Davuluri as a champion for change in the pageant circuit.

Ugh, typical.

Davuluri took a hard stance on diversity, which is great, but that this needs to be a thing on the 93rd anniversary of the pageant reminds us of the obvious: "real" Americans hate diversity. Perhaps the most shared post on this win has been Buzzfeed's obligatory round-up of racist tweets. While many were disgusted, there isn't much to expect from folks who take beauty pageants seriously, and the backlash came as a surprise to no one. What's the point in continuing these tweet-shaming round-ups except to remind us that crappy people exist and to make ourselves feel better that we're not one of them?

And ironically, but again unsurprising to many of us API's, some have pointed out that Davuluri is actually too Indian to even be Miss India or Miss Indian America. I can only speak for my experience as a Filipino American, but shadism is a very real thing that still exists in our community.

In general, the net gain on this win feels like close to zero. We learn, once again, that Americans are still racist and misogynistic. One more person gets a "First Asian American To..." title, essentially we are validated by the white male patriarchy just a little bit more, but the sun rises once again and little else changes.


Theresa Celebran Jones


Theresa Celebran Jones was born and raised in Connecticut and has moved cross-country four times. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two young daughters. She works full-time as a technical writer and is an MFA dropout. Her only other hobbies are reading, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and listening to hip hop. Clearly she has no social life.



Amen, Theresa.

This is the comment I posted on news stories about the racial outburst in the United States about an Indian being chosen “Miss America”:- ------START OF COMMENT-------- “Indians as a rule are inferior Indian n i g g e r s unfit to talk about strategic matters, especially if it involves the White Master in any way, which it always does. That is why in his 'Mein Kampf' Adolf Hitler said "As for India, I would rather see India under the British than under any one else". It is not just that a handful of the British from half way around the world ruled India for centuries; a lot of other people from various countries did that for a thousand years before that. A modern day Babar will start each day by killing a million Indians before breakfast every morning, though some think three million will be better (this number can be herded into fairly small extermination circles and then a neutron bomb exploded over them). I am an Indian, but as far above the other Indians as they may be above cockroaches” -- Satish Chandra “RAW’s Trafficking of Indian Children to Israel to be Used as Food” : RAWsTraffickingOfIndianChildrenDOTblogspotDOTcom --------END OF COMMENT-------- I posted the above comment on a story about the racial outburst in Hindustan Times. Someone with a female name posted a comment on my comment saying ‘I can’t believe you are an Indian’ and suggested I am a Pakistani. Well, yes, how can the most intelligent, most handsome man on Earth be an Indian? Another RAW operative posted a comment on my comment saying ‘You are under RAW’s radar. Better get out’. I have described how I have been under 24-hour satellite surveillance for the past 36 years and some of the crimes against me with the fullest participation of the Indians: IndiasLegitimateRulerSatishChandraDOTblogspotDOTcom . This is a paragraph from my press release dated September 14 ‘13 titled “India Is Now the Sole Superpower“ (thanks to Satish Chandra):- “There should be no elections in India until the public is familiar with Satish Chandra and his life and work, after which the public will automatically lynch all politicians. But this will not happen because the media are still controlled by CIA-RAW and the meek acceptance for centuries of rule by the British who killed over ten million Indians in just the ten years after 1857 in just Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Bihar and the ferocious loyalty to the Anglo-Americans of Indians both in government (prime examples of which are the Intelligence Bureau and RAW -- WhatYouShouldKnowAboutRAWDOTblogspotDOTcom -- who go to unlimited lengths to sabotage and damage India in service of their Anglo-American masters) and outside shows that the Indian public can be mobilized for Hindu-Muslim riots by the Intelligence Bureau and RAW, that is all it is capable of. Since India’s status as the sole superpower is based on nuclear weapons emplaced in U.S. cities, the public is not needed to destroy Washington, New York and RAW and, later, for the coast-to-coast destruction of the enemy United States.” Back in 1968-69 I used to date a beauty queen who was “Miss Rochester” and “runner-up in the New York State Pageant”; I assumed that her float had won the second prize in some kind of an annual agricultural parade, the state equivalent of a county fair; only much later did I realize it was a beauty contest. I asked her why she had given up modeling and worked a factory job and she replied “You have to give yourself”. As for the Indian woman being chosen “Miss America” -- I wouldn’t touch a piece of dog-faeces like that with a ten foot pole. Satish Chandra
There is no validity to Davuluri calling Hagan "fat as fuck." Hagan's reps denied it, and so has Davuluri. Of course, there is going to be nasty rumors about her, and I find it irresponsible to pass around unconfirmed information, especially in a published article. The backlash to Davuluri's win was met with backlash against the racism towards her, and I'm glad the media brought attention to how racist Americans can be. The Miss America pageant is found on sexism. I'm not denying it. But it's still amazing to see Asian Americans with huge media roles, and young Asian women won't constantly see white beauty around them and feel the need they need to be whiter in order to be accepted as beautiful in this country. So, I think Davuluri's win will inspire young AA's and empower them that they don't need to be white, and I love how outspoken Davuluris on diversity. She didn't brush it under the table.