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 is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to serving as an Executive Director at Feministing, Lori is the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

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

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