Nina Davuluri Caught Off Guard By Julie Chen Question, But Not By Racist Haters

Since winning the title of Miss America, Nina Davuluri has become the nationwide center of attention. From racist haters to supportive members of the community, just about everyone seemed compelled to voice their opinion about the first Indian Miss America. Finally, it’s her turn to speak up.

Nina Davuluri dished it all in an interview with The Wall Street Journal‘s Jeff Yang. After discussing the various misconceptions about pageants, Davuluri explained her own reasons for partaking in the competition. Aside from using the winnings for med school, Davuluri expressed her desire to change the “girl-next-door” look of pageant winners.

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“I grew up watching Miss America for years and years, and as the daughter of immigrants, I always thought to myself that I could never be that — because I didn’t look a certain way; I didn’t fit the model of what was up there on that screen,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be about race, it shouldn’t — but it is. To be able to stand up there, and be an example for other little girls that America is now a very different place, that’s everything to me.”

Because of her platform, “Diversity Through Cultural Sensitivity,” we were surprised to learn that Davuluri was caught off guard with her pageant question pertaining to Julie Chen.

Although there have been mixed reactions to her response, Davuluri explained herself in further detail to The Wall Street Journal. She revealed that she empathized with Julie Chen and understands that it is our society, unfortunately, that made Chen feel the need to change herself.

She may have been caught off guard by her Julie Chen question, but she certainly wasn’t caught off guard by all the racist reactions to her win. In fact, she claims she expected it.

“I’d already experienced something like it on a smaller scale when I won Miss New York,” she explains. “It’s part of the reason I was so determined to focus my platform on diversity. But you can’t just scream in the dark, you have to try to shed light and awareness.”

Read the full article here.

Cosmetic Surgery & Asian Career Women

It’s no question that in today’s society there is a constant desire for women to look beautiful, and Asian countries are definitely not immune to these pressures for perpetual good looks.  Media images perpetuate and affirm a certain, supposed “standard” of acceptable and desired beauty — light skin, straight hair, large eyes, small face, and tall.  To achieve this ideal, many Asian women resort to means like skin lightening creams in the Philippines, double-eyelid tape in South Korea, and of course, cosmetic surgery, the beauty industry in Asia is serious business.

But, what if these procedures and beauty products had a purpose beyond just vanity?  Would you do it?  In countries like China and South Korea, it seems that more and more women are going under the knife for more than just their looks.

According to Joanna Chiu for The Daily Beast, in China, the potentially dangerous procedures are seen as investments that are seen as a way for women to gain an upper hand in the job market.  Wen Hua, author of Buying Beauty: Cosmetic Surgery in China tells the Daily Beast that “the idea that beauty is capital “epitomizes the idea that good looks are the key to increased opportunities for social and career success.”  And this isn’t just hearsay.  As seen in the piece, 10 years ago, 90% of job ads targeted towards women were exclusively for under-30s.  For many government jobs, women must meet a certain height requirement.

The article later describes the story of Liu, a woman pleased with her cosmetic surgery, but also discussing her procedures as a necessary investment in her future, saying she got her job partly due to the fact that she was beautiful.

In South Korea, where cosmetic surgery rates are already well-known to be the highest per capita, things are quite similar. As Sharon Heijin Lee says in an article for CNN,

In Korea, for a woman to be capable, it’s not enough just to have a certain skill set ” she said. “You have to be beautiful as well. After the Korean economic crisis in 1997, competition for jobs led to the surgery boom; people trying to get a leg up in the job market any way they can.

Of course, this is definitely not to say that this is a phenomenon is one that is exclusive to Asia, but such quotes and statistics are reflective of the problematic and global pervasiveness of beauty being seen as just as important factor in the job hunt as someone’s abilities and qualifications.  It places an unnecessary importance on physical attractiveness where it shouldn’t be.  Women are put on a high pedestal, left with the difficult pressure to be seemingly flawless, by virtually any means possible.

Though we’re all about feeling confident and proud of yourself, feeling beautiful is something that you should define, on your own means and on your own terms, not dictated by those around you.

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