Let’s go ahead and jump right in with politics, racism, gender, and ‘Murica at its best.
I’m a little late on this one, but I wanted to share this gem from the most recent Miss America Pageant. I don’t follow it, but in an effort to learn more about this culture of ours, I’ve sort of paid a hint of attention this year. (Ok, I didn’t pay any attention until I heard about the first openly tattooed contestant in the pageant. I like tattoos.) Let’s go ahead and start at the top, shall we?
I know, they’re all brown and all from that part of the world known as “Not America,” but, really? It’s bad enough to paint all Arab people with a single paint brush, but, um, India is not generally considered to be the Middle East, even though it shares a border with Pakistan. (Yes, I looked it up. I didn’t need to look it up to know it’s not part of what Americans consider to be “Arab” nations.)
Aah, yes- her family is from somewhere else, so how could she win? A very quick Google told me that she was born in America to parents who moved from India. According to our laws, if you’re born on this soil, you’re American. Which is why my family, your family, and any family that isn’t a Native American can claim to be American. (Also, gotta love “I’m not racist, but . . . “) Heck, even the Native Americans came from somewhere else, if you go back in time far enough. (From further down- yes, our president and Miss America being of “questionable” citizenship totally deserves the same level of outrage.)
A brown woman won the crown four days after 9/11. Oh the humanity! Have we forgotten?! No, we haven’t forgotten. We aren’t allowed to. However, 9/11 really has absolutely nothing to do with picking the woman that looks the best in a bikini. Guess what? It’s been held in September since 1921. I think it has first dibs on the month.
Miss Al-Qaeda. That’s classy. Not only is she not considered to be an Arab (being of Indian descent and all), but even if she was of Arabic descent, there is no reason to assume that she has any ties to terrorists or that she has any sympathy for such fringe groups. Brown =/= terrorist. There’ve been enough white ones to disprove that particular theory.
Miss 7-11. I can’t even.
The best for last- Miss Kansas, the tattooed, military bow-hunter is the “Real Miss America.” After reading this article– Miss Kansas is awesome. Smart, athletic, multi-lingual, and willing to serve in the military. She is a kick-ass example of womanhood to set before our young woman. The very fact that she made it as far as she did in the pageant world with visible tattoos is a huge step forward in recognizing beauty in all its forms. However, that is no more American than the child of immigrants that is following much of the rest of her family into medicine.
There are so very many things wrong with all of this that it’s hard to pick something to fixate on. I think, though, that it’s the combination of skin color and tattoos that really sticks out. I guaran-damn-tee that if that tattoo had been on Miss New York, she wouldn’t have won. She probably wouldn’t have even made it to Miss America. But the deviation is permissible on Miss Kansas because she’s not just white, she’s blond. That puts her much more firmly in the “conventionally attractive” column than our brown Miss New York. So, really, with either winner, it’s a huge step in the right direction for getting out of our narrow view of beauty. (Also, congratulations to all of the contestants. I don’t understand pageants, but I do recognize the work it takes to get to this level.)