Indian-American who has suffered from bulimia crowned Miss America; reactions are predictably terrible

Nina Davuluri

On Friday Chloe asked if we should do away with beauty pageants. She argued that pageants are a kind of “low-hanging fruit” of feminism, part of a much larger problem relating to how we think about what it means to be a “good” woman. Now that the pageant is over and Miss America has been crowned, it’s time to consider another kind of “low-hanging fruit”: racists on Twitter, and the consistently terrible New York Post.

Both took to the Internet to voice their concerns over the crowning of Nina Davuluri as Miss America, the first Indian-American to earn the title. God bless Buzzfeed for schlepping through the dregs of Twitter to compile this listicle “A Lot of People are Very Upset that an Indian-American Won the Miss America Beauty Pageant” so I don’t have to. The Too Long; Don’t Read Racists version is that people think Indian-Americans are Arabs, and also terrorists? Because, racism. Also apparently there is now a meme with this woman, who was also a contestant but is blonde and likes guns, so of course is way more American than the actual Miss America.

Real America meme

“Real Miss America” meme

Look, this is why issues like immigration, xenophobia and racism are most certainly feminist issues. This isn’t just about saying one specific type of Indian-American woman isn’t American enough. As Anna has said, “it’s taking this idea to its logical conclusion and saying that my entire community and all other communities of color that are viewed by society as Other and as not rightfully belonging.”

In addition to exposing the racist underbelly of America, the Miss America pageant also gave the New York Post more fodder for their awful and ongoing assault on the women of the world. A trigger warning on the following content, which deals with insensitive and offensive remarks about eating disorders. Gleefully unearthing the newly crowned Miss America’s “pudgy past,” the Post dug up photos of her when she weighed more than she currently does, and hunted down her personal trainer for an interview. Of alleged comments Davuluri has made about other contestants’ weights, the Post writes that she is the “potbelly calling the kettle fat”. How is this publication still in circulation in 2013?

If beauty pageants themselves aren’t yet considered retrograde enough to evolve or end completely, perhaps we can all agree that the disgusting racism, fat-shaming, and sexist media coverage they engender are clearly within our collective reproach.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman started blogging with Feministing in 2008, and now runs partnerships and strategy as a co-Executive Director. She is also the Director of Youth Engagement at Women Deliver, where she promotes meaningful youth engagement in international development efforts, including through running the award-winning Women Deliver Young Leaders Program. Lori was formerly the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and has also worked at the United Nations Foundation on the Secretary-General's flagship Every Woman Every Child initiative, and at the International Women’s Health Coalition and Human Rights Watch. As a leading voice on women’s rights issues, Lori frequently consults, speaks and publishes on feminism, activism and movement-building. A graduate of Harvard University, Lori has been named to The Root 100 list of the most influential African Americans in the United States, and to Forbes Magazine‘s list of the “30 Under 30” successful mediamakers. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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