Ariana Miyamoto was recently selected as the first mixed-race candidate to represent Japan in the Miss Universe pageant. Born and raised in Nagaski to a Japanese mother and an African American father, Miyamoto identifies as Japanese and has even studied Japanese calligraphy. But to some people in Japan, that is not enough.
As if she were already anticipating the backlash, Miyamoto said in an interview, “I thought ‘I wonder if a haafu like me would be okay’ and had insecurities. I think the world pageant will be a bit more vigorous, but I want to be myself and try my best.” And right on cue, headlines like “Haafu to Represent Japan in Miss Universe 2015″ have started popping up.
First off, “haafu” is a term that means half Japanese. Many haafus, such as fashion model Rola, tend to be popular as models and idols, but haafus still generally face discrimination. After all, Japan originated the saying “出る釘は打たれる” or “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. Therefore, it’s saddening but not unexpected that reactions to Miyamoto have been mixed.
Top-rated comments wishing for a “more Japanese” contestant have appeared on popular Japanese websites such as “GirlsChannel.” Other comments have been more blunt, like the one saying Miyamoto “has too much black blood in her to be Japanese.”
Thankfully, some more progressive-minded commenters are fighting back saying “having a different ethnicity in you doesn’t make you ANY LESS JAPANESE!” and calling the questions on her validity “pathetic” and “outdated.”
This isn’t the first time pageants have been met with racist reactions. For instance, Nina Davuluri, the first woman of Indian descent to win Miss America, quickly became the focus of discriminatory and racist comments on various social media platforms. She was called “Miss 7-11,” “Miss Al-Qaeda,” and even referred to as a “terrorist.”
Needless to say, we here at Audrey Magazine wish Ariana Miyamoto, as well as every other beauty pageant contestant who faces discrimination, the best of luck against the naysayers. We support you.