Queen of the DayMiss America Pageant Crowns Their First Indian-American WinnerParry Ernsberger

On Sunday night, for the first time since its inception in 1921, the Miss America pageant crowned an Indian-American woman the winner. (Fun fact: The pageant was initially created as a way to extend the Atlantic City, N.J. tourism season for an extra weekend.) 24-year-old Nina Davuluri, a Syracuse, NY native with dreams of being a doctor, seemed to serendipitously predict her win during the competition:

“Miss America is evolving,” she said. “And she’s not going to look the same anymore.”

(Side note: She’s also the second consecutive Miss New York to win. HOLLER!) Over the course of the renowned beauty pageant’s history, there have been seven black Miss America’s (starting with Vanessa Williams in 1983), but the rest have all been caucasian. And in addition to Davuluri’s win, this year’s runner-up, Miss California Crystal Lee, is Chinese-American.

Amardeep Singh, an Indian professor of English, said the fact that Divuluri considered herself a contender in the first place spoke to the massive cultural significance of her win.

“It’s a relatively new phenomenon that Indian-American women would even think of themselves as potentially having a chance,” Singh said. “It’s the way things are changing in America. The Indian community is becoming more comfortable in its skin.”

Davuluri, whose platform was “celebrating diversity through cultural competency” and wowed the judges with her Bollywood dance performance, will be using the $50,000 scholarship she won as a part of the pageant title to apply to medical school. Pretty AND smart AND Indian-American? You’ve come a long way, Miss America. The times they are a-changin’!

“I’m so happy this organization has embraced diversity,” Davuluri said in her first official press conference. “I’m thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America.”

Featured image via NPR

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  1. Indian-American, American Indian….don’t you guys realize how hard these kinds of ridiculous terms are for us dyslexic people?

  2. I hate the huge uproar about her being Indian-American. I don’t identify myself as Euro-Canadian. I am Canadian. And she is American. End of story.

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  4. I’m not a huge fan of beauty pageants, but I’d like to congratulate the Miss America Organization and the new Winner, Nina Davuluri. The pageant may be superficial, but she is as talented and intelligent as much as she is beautiful.

  5. What a joke. Yes even Indian women can be objectified now. Notice how she is still gorgeous? She may think the face of Miss America is changing but it’s not. We still glorify looks over ability or character. I think beauty pageants are awful, especially when small children are subjected to them. When you set a ridiculously high bar for “beauty” you are only harming the human race. Women will feel they need to live up to this standard and men will believe that they need a wife or girlfriend that also makes the cut. I’m so sick of women telling men to not objectify them when it’s women who objectify themselves.