Lebanese immigrant wins Miss USA, right wingers lose it

Rima Fakih covers her mouth with her hand after being crowned Miss USAI am no fan of the Miss USA competition or its skeevy owner Donald Trump. But I do think it’s significant that Rima Fakih, who is Lebanese, Muslim, and an immigrant, won this year’s competition yesterday. Fakih is likely the first Arab American, Muslim or immigrant to win Miss USA. If nothing else this says something about shifting standards of beauty in a culture dominated by representations of white women as attractive. Fakih shows young Muslim and Lebanese girls that they too can be considered beautiful. Yes, part of a fucked up system of beauty, but this is still a meaningful change.

I’m also pretty excited by Fakih’s answer to a question about birth control:

During the interview portion, Fakih was asked whether she thought birth control should be paid for by health insurance, and she said she believed it should because it’s costly.

“I believe that birth control is just like every other medication even though it’s a controlled substance,” Fakih said.

Glad that’s the answer associated with the competition’s winner, especially since the first runner-up, Morgan Elizabeth Woolard, expressed support for Arizona’s racist new immigration law in her interview.

And of course right wingers are flipping out about a Muslim winning the competition (doesn’t really matter that Fakih identifies as both Muslim and Christian). From TAPPED:

Michelle Malkin is savvy enough to mostly cloak her freak-out behind horror over Fakih’s politics (although she can’t resist a dig at those “identity politics” people), while other conservative bloggers just go ahead and call her a terrorist. Professional Islamophobe Daniel Pipes combs the internet for other instances in which Muslim women have won beauty contests, and concludes there’s some kind of “an odd form of affirmative action” going on. Because how could anyone choose a Muslim over a “real American” in a beauty contest?

Makes it pretty hard to buy claims folks aren’t racist, they just hate Muslims and Arabs because they hate the U.S. Because what’s more mainstream “American” than competing in and winning the Miss USA contest?

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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