Cultural Trends/Popular Culture

Miss America Dances Bollywood to Win Pageant

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fans cheered Miss America 2014 this week for being the first of South Asian descent to win the title. Critics posted racist comments on Twitter. Nina Davuluri says she will use her scholarship money to help pay for medical school.




 

Miss India-America.
Miss America.

 

Credit: By Andy Jones on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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(WOMENSENEWS)--Miss New York just won Miss America for the second year in a row.

But this year marked history: New Yorker Nina Davuluri became the first Indian-American to win the national crown.

While fans cheered her crowing on Sunday night, Sept. 15, social media begin to produce hateful reactions.

from FOX Radio posted this tweet: "The liberal Miss America judges won't say this -- but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values. #missamerica"

"WHEN WILL A WHITE WOMAN WIN #MISSAMERICA? Ever??!!" one tweeter posted.

Tweeters also called Davuluri an Arab and a terrorist, apparently because the event fell close to Sept. 11.

Another tweeted, "This is America, not India."

Davuluri's twitter supporters included Stephen Colbert, an American political satirist and TV host of The Colbert Report; Gabrielle Union, American actress and former model; Pitbull, American rapper, songwriter, and record producer; Sophia Bush, American actress, director, and spokesperson and editors at InStyle, a women's fashion magazine company based in New York.

The retailer Macy's also put its Tweet feed behind the new Miss America.

"New York does it again! Congrats to Nina Davuluri, the new #MissAmerica, from your friends @Macys!," Macy's tweeted.

Students at Duke University posted a video of themselves cheering on 2014's Miss America on .

Davuluri's crowning also opened another issue: that her dark complexion meant she could probably not win Miss India.

With very few exceptions, Indian pageants have tended to reward fairer-skinned contestants, reported, .

An Indian tweeted, "The question is whether a girl as dark as could possibly have won Miss India? Knowing our fascination for fairness, maybe not!"

Susan Runkle, a doctoral candidate in cultural anthropology at Syracuse University, conducted an observation study of Miss India pageant's six-week training program for contestants in 2003.

She found that dermatologist Dr. Jamuna Pai held a skin-examination session with each candidate once a week, she wrote in her article , and prescribed the peeling agent Retin-A, glycolic acid and in some cases, laser treatment to help the contestants alter their skin color.

"When an Indian man looks for a bride, he wants one who is tall, fair and slim, and fairer people always get jobs first," Dr. Pai said to Runkle in her interview. "Today, this is being disproved because of the success internationally of dark-skinned models, but we still lighten their skin here because it gives the girls extra confidence when they go abroad."

Daluvuri is not intimidated by negative comments and said she is living her American dream, reported, .

"I have to rise above that. I always viewed myself as first and foremost American," she told CNN."I wanted to be the first Indian Miss America, to be that symbol of a new face for the organization, and to let younger girls know that regardless of race, their socioeconomic status, their religion, that anyone can become not only Miss America, but anything."

The 24-year-old was born in Fayetteville, N.Y., and attended the University of Michigan, where she made the dean's list and earned the Michigan Merit Award and National Honor Society nods and graduated with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science.

Davuluri performed a Bollywood dance for her talent piece of the ceremony, of which she said to be very proud, reported, .

"It's the first time Bollywood has ever been performed on the Miss America stage and it's such an honor for myself, my family and the Indian community, as well," she said.

Davuluri also she wants to become a physician like her father who emigrated from India 30 years ago, reported. She will be paying her tuition fees for medical school with the $50, 000 scholarship she won from being crowned Miss America.

. Follow her on Twitter @DarinaNaidu.

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