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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxC44WsGFoE

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.

New York Fashion Week: Less Than 10% Asian Models

With New York Fashion Week behind us, Jezebel decided to conduct a study on the diversity of the models, or lack thereof, who walked down the runway at New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014.

In previous years, people have commented on the lack of representation of models of color. In fact, the Fall/Winter 2013 collections were subject to heavy criticism due to an alarming number of companies — Araks, Assembly, Belstaff, Calvin Klein, Elizabeth & James, Gregory Parkinson, J Brand, Jenni Kayne, Juicy Couture, Louise Goldin, Lyn Devon, Threeasfour, and Whit — 13 in all, that featured only white models.

So naturally, we were eager to see what would happen this past Fashion Week. Companies had to try and remedy this diversity gap, right? And there were nearly 5,000 looks. That’s plenty of opportunity for models of color to take on the runway.

The results? Almost 80 percent of those 5,000 looks were modeled by white women, a number that has pretty much remained static since 2008.

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This is not to say that all designers completely ignored the criticism of previous years. Anna Sui, Pamella Roland, Jeremy Scott, Dennis Basso, Vivienne Tam, KaufmanFranco, Rachel Comey, Alice + Olivia, Ohne Titel, Tracy Reese, Thom Brown, Diane von Furstenberg and Zac Posen are on the list of designers who featured at least 30 percent models of color. While this number may still seem rather low, it is unfortunately the best we’ve got.

Many of the designers who were critiqued for having no models of color tried to remedy this by adding three to five non-white models. (We know. We’re rolling our eyes, too.)

Some designers tried to trick the crowd and give the illusion of a more diverse set of models. While this season seemed to be more diverse, the same models of color were being booked and were simply walking the runway multiple times.

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From left: Liu Wen at Jason Wu; Ji Hye Park at Nicole Miller; Tian Yi at Monique Lhuillier; Yumi Lambert at Y-3.

The Asian models above prove this. Tian Yi walked 15, Yumi Lambert was seen in at least 13 and Ji Hye Park and Liu Wen walked 12 shows. Rather than book a variety of models of color, companies relied on the same faces.

Somali supermodel Iman Abdulmajid was part of the crowd watching this season’s New York Fashion Week and noticed the lack of diversity on the runway.

“I’ve always said runways and photos are important to shape our young girls,” Abdulmajid said in an interview last week. “To see models of color on the runway is important to the self-esteem of our young girls. To see otherwise makes them feel like they can be in or out.”

We can only cross our fingers that those in power in the fashion industry also begin to understand the importance of diversity on the runways.

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Asians in Fashion | Carine Roitfeld’s “Singular Beauties” for “Harper’s Bazaar” September 2013

Carine Roitfeld, former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris and current editor-in-chief of CR Fashion Book, has developed quite a successful reputation. To add on to her list of stunning work is her new feature in Harper’s Bazaar September issue. “Singular Beauties” is said to be “an homage to the diversity of women” and thankfully our community has recognition within this diverse group of women.

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 12.11.32 PMChina Machado (left)
The first Eurasian supermodel (and Bazaar fashion editor from 1962 to 1972), still breaking barriers at age 83.”

Soo Joo Park (right)
Modeling’s blonde Asian, reinventing her look at age 27.”

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 12.14.12 PMXiao Wen Ju (left)
A lithe beauty at five foot nine.”

 

 

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Chiharu Okunugi
A Japanese beauty with poetic presence.”

Watch the behind-the-scenes footage below and check out the entire feature here.