On Sunday night, Nina Davuluri, Miss New York was crowned the new Miss America in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She is the first contestant of Indian heritage to win the prestigious Miss America pageant.
A total of 53 contestants took part in pageant – -one from each state, plus the Diostrict of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. They appeared in a swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview competitions. The 24-year-old Miss New York performed a classical Bollywood fusion dance for the talent competition. She is the second consecutive Miss New York to win the nation’s crown, after Mallory Hagan, selected in January, when the competition was still held in Las Vegas. Born in Syracuse, N.Y., Davuluri is planning to become a doctor like her father and is now applying to medical school. Although she is American, her victory led to a lot of negative comments on Twitter about her descent and religion. Although some of them were racist and even pretty hateful, she remained calm and undisturbed. The first Indian-American Miss America competed on a theme “Celebrating Diversity through Cultural Competency”.
And indeed, the 2014 pageant was full of diversity – Miss Kansas, for instance, Theresa Vail who is an army sergeant openly displayed her tattoos. Besides the Serenity Prayer on her rib cage, she has a small military insignia on the back of her shoulder. Vail failed to make it to the Top 10, but she actually won the vote for “America’s Choice”. Miss Florida, Myrrhanda Jones, made it to the top 5, wearing a knee brace. And another tattoo was seen on the neck of Miss America 2013, Mallory Hagan.
This year’s show was definitely unusual. But the thing that will probably shock most audiences are the Twitter comments about Davuluri. While some assumed she was a Muslim (and she is not) and that her victory was linked to President Obama, others called her a terrorist. And this is not the first time of racism, or hate to be precise – in 2010 Lebanese-American Rima Fakih won Miss USA> Of course, there were people who found a relation between her and Hezbollah. Well, sadly, haters will always exist.