The new Miss America is breathtakingly beautiful and brown.
Nina Davuluri of New York claimed her title in a flood of joyful tears…and a flood of xenophobic tweets. Perhaps not all of America is ready to allow their beauty standards to be met by someone in a minority, but the first runner-up was Miss California Crystal Lee (yet another Asian American).
Get with the times, people.
And let’s just take a moment to address the other monumental candidates in this year’s pageant. Miss Kansas Theresa Vail showed off two very visible tattoos and is only the second contestant ever to compete while on active duty for the US Army. Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones tore two ligaments in her leg last Thursday and still showed up onstage – in a swimsuit and knee brace.
The competition was supposedly fierce, and Miss Missouri Shelby Ringdahl of good ole Columbia was one of the final twelve contestants. Not bad for a girl homegrown in the Midwest.
I knew very little of the odd tradition of beauty pageants in America (apart from what Miss Congeniality taught me, of course). I awoke this morning to a Twitter stream of outrage over the outrage on Twitter expressed against Miss Davuluri and figured I would read up a bit.
The pageant began in 1921 in Atlantic City, NJ as a way to boost summer tourism. In many ways, it still adheres to some hyperlocal traditions that make it an endearing pastime for the community. Take, for instance, the boardwalk parade.
Contestants cruise along the boardwalk in convertibles but the full lineup includes a long list of high school bands, local military, and dozens of New Jersey performance troupes. Shouts of “Show us your shoes!” hurled at the cars stem from the old tradition of sexually-deprived young men attempting to sneak a glimpse of the ankles of beautiful young women.
Today these shoes far out-dazzle the ankles bearing them.
Add to the list of things I didn’t know: the District of Columbia is represented, this year by Bindhu Pamarthi, coincidentally another stunning Indian American. So are Puerto Rice and the US Virgin Islands.
And Ghana too takes part in the pageant world, apparently. I suppose that’s appropriate considering a Miss World pageant exists.
These beauty pageants are such strange events, but one must agree they are curiously fascinating. And now we return to our regular programming.