Wellness

The Ugly Side of Beauty Contests

Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons

Recently, in two national beauty contests held on both sides of the Atlantic, the ugly side of beauty reared its racist head as online racist backlash took over the web.  Nina Davuluri, winner of the Miss America Contest, a 24-year-old North American of Indian descent and Flora Coquerel,winner of the Miss France Contest, a 19-year-old whose mother is from the West African state of Benin, both shocked a fraction of humanity as the question was posed:

How did they win when they are not white natives to their countries?

As a mixed race young woman who has grown up in the UK and exhibits the beauty of Jamaican, Ghanaian and Irish ancestry, I found the racist reactions disturbing to say the least. Here are some of the comments that circulated on Twitter:

The United States of America

I am literarily soo mad right now a ARAB won.

More like Miss Terrorist

This is America. Not India

Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you.

Asian or indian are you kiddin this is America omg

France

I am sure all the monkeys in the zoo applauded the new Miss France 2014.

The mixed race is the cancer of the white race. 

If Beninese people were represented by a Scottish or a Chinese, they would feel similar discomfort.

Photo Credit @FredericLavisa
Photo Credit @FredericLavisa

First of all, these contests are open to any female citizen of any race, background or religion of the countries hence Nina and Flora had every right to win. Secondly, I just have to say this – being Indian DOES NOT make you an Arab! Finally, jury just in – the monkeys in the zoo applauded, along with the elephants, giraffes, kangaroos, most of the French population and myself of course (NOT). The hateful ridiculousness of these comments is toxic and the ignorance embedded within each racist comment is overwhelming.

What I think is most worrying is the fact that these comments were posted in a public domain for the entire world to see. The stupidity of the racists who posted the comments is highlighted in their naivety to not expect attention or to be called out for being prejudice and discriminatory. However, I think this draws our attention to an even bigger problem:

How do we combat racism in the ever growing multicultural societies that exist today?

I have thought about this in great depth and I believe that the solution lies within the question. We must continue to grow multicultural societies and tolerance. As societies diversify, people interact with one another and learn that maybe, just maybe, we’re not that different after all. United States Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. put it perfectly when he said,

We often hate each other because we fear each other; we fear each other because we don’t know each other; we don’t know each other because we cannot communicate; we cannot communicate because we are separated.”

He was speaking during the time of apartheid in the American South and during a time of great injustice for all African Americans. There is a lot to be learnt from the history of humanity and it is clear that, in order to prevent racism,we must communicate – to do so, we have to come together.

Let’s teach tolerance and understanding. Let’s educate our children to accept one another and embrace our differences. It is alarming to think that young girls watch these beauty pageants and then hear and see such racism. What message are we sending out to girls like my 11 year old mixed race niece Kya?

This brings to my mind the words one of the world’s greatest leaders, the late Nelson Madiba Mandela:

No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Finally, I would just like to congratulate both Nina and Flora for their victories, the message they send out is loud and clear.

Cover image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

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Category: Lifestyle    Uncategorized    Wellness
Tagged with: #girlseducation    abuse    beauty    beauty contests    beauty pageants    cyberbull    Discrimination    education    France    Mental Health    prejudice    racism    USA

Marcia Banasko

@Na_sko

From the United Kingdom, currently based in Geneva, Switzerland working for the World YWCA, a global network of women leading social and economic change in over 120 countries worldwide. Feminist & Youth Advocate for social change.

See more posts from Marcia
  • echodeuxtrois

    Reblogged this on The Tension Diaries and commented:
    Technology does not modernize a country, tolerance and equality does. Why people are so hang up on color?

  • Nina

    Great article! I cannot believe the comments people make to these beautiful girls. I would love to say they are coming from jealousy but they are probably not. They are in my opinion from pure ignorance, stupidity and fear. But the worst part is that they dont even know what they fear (hence the arab comment… omg) so their fear comes from ignorance too: where it all starts…

    Apart from that racism is always stupid and that we are all children of the world, US citizens in my opinion are the very least to ever be intolerant to others as they themselves are no ‘natives’. But I know that that last comment starts a whole other discussion that is irrelevant right now 🙂

    Anyway: great article and great to come up with ideas to battle the racism. I would love to listen to the people who make these horrible comments to see where it comes from, then kick their ass and then educate them.

  • Oh racism, if we can’t put a stop to this in our generation then we may as well be doomed and yet I believe the more we speak out and make such issues go viral the better the struggle!
    Thanks indeed for sharing!