International Beauty Standards – Mixed Heritage and Miss Universe


While a typhoon hit her country, Miss Philippines Ariella Arida was in the running for the crown of Miss Universe 2013. She had the “people’s backing” earning her right into the top 16 through online voting. She eventually placed 4th. Gabriela Isler of Venezuela of  won the 2013 title of Miss Universe.

(read more on rescue efforts here)

Ariella Arida represented Philippines in Miss Universe 2013. Photo via FB
Ariella Arida represented Philippines in Miss Universe 2013. Photo via FB

Beauty pageants with multicultural beauty


Discussion surrounding multiculturalism, racism, white privilege and more. We pick out what, to some white folk, may seem mundane, but the flip side is that many things we say have bias tied to them. While “race” is often lumped into non-race items and instead of seeing the bias that is tied, I know, I, for one often say “that has nothing to do with race” but yes it will still have some bias in it. Language, for example – there’s bias in language preference, but I’d not say it has to do with race as much as it has to do with regionalism. I am still a bit up in the air as to whether language preference (correct English, preferred English) is as “bad” as cultural linguists will put make it seem. But, I do know there is more awareness of cultural differences and it is another item that causes social media fights.

The ideal of blond hair, blue eyes, tall is beauty of the past. While there have been Latina beauty queens in the US, as well as African Americans, this year the US has Nina Davuluri, their first nationally crowned beauty queen of Indian heritage. Nina Davuluri is Miss New York 2013 and Miss America 2014.

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but there’s instances world wide of modifications to a person in the name of beauty. Botox, skin lighteners, tanning beds, nose jobs, neck lengthening, feet binding. The list goes on.

2013 Beauty Pageant Contestants with Mixed Cultural Heritage

Mixed race couples are becoming more prominent in media. The “Cheerios Commercial” opened the conversation for many. Yesterday India premiered their first “white daughter in law” serial (daughter in law/Indian mother in law serials are the “thing” here).

In 2013 American-born Megan Young was crowned Miss World. Her mother is Filipino and her father is “American” and she had moved to the Phillipines at age 10. She represented the Philippines.

Cecilia Aisha Iftikhar, who has mixed Pakistani and Danish heritage, represented Denmark in Miss Universe 2013.

Culture and heritage affect a sense of “belonging” and acceptance.  New York-born Katherina Roshana, who, in other contests goes by the full name Katherina Roshana Khan also holds the title of Miss India Guyana.

Canada was represented by Riza Santos, whose parents are Filipino.

Olivia Rose Bourrillon, whose father is Indian and mother is Australian of Italian descent

Parul Shah a competitor in the Miss Phillipines contest is Dubai-born and of Indian and Filipino heritage

International Pageant List

  • Miss International takes place in Tokyo in December. List of Delegates are available online.
  • Miss Earth – is a beauty pageant with an environmental cause.
  • Miss World is the longest surviving international beauty pageant.
  • Miss Universe just completed November 9, 2013.

In the end, beauty is within the eye of the beholder. Beauty is skin deep. There are so many things said, but what defines beauty varies in cultures. Those teetering among cultures may have a hard time finding themselves with out support of their family and the communities at large. While the beauty queens have faced prejudice (calling Nina slurs based on her heritage, and some that should have embarrassed the people tweeting as they showed their lack of geographical or historical knowledge, Megan Young faced tweets indicating less of a value she would have as a person due to her Filipino background), the every day people also face these biases. While beauty may bring status to how one looks – it does little to the overall perception of people and women on the whole due to the lack of positive light beauty pageants hold as it is. But, some steps are better than none when it comes, right?


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  1. I agree the stereotypical blonde haired blue eye gal is out for a singular definition of beauty. And not to impugn beautiful blondes with blue eyes, but hurrah for embracing beauty collectively.

  2. I have never paid attention to these types of contests/pageants, i it is just not my type of thing. I believe there are a lot of beautiful people in the world and heritage/race has nothing to do with their beauty. It is the complete package that makes someone beautiful, not just the physical appearance along with the things that are said on a stage, people lie and pretend all the time, it takes time to find someone’s true beauty.

  3. These pagents don’t depict what beauty is really about. Inner beauty is more beautiful to me than someone who is beautiful on the outside. So many beautiful girls on the outside are ugly inside.
    I would like to see these so called beautiful girls get up on stage with no make up or whatever else they use to make them look better. That way we might see the real person.

  4. As someone who watched her sisters obsess over their appearances when participating in pageants on a much smaller scale, I really detest such beauty contests. As refreshing as it is to see pageants bucking the notion that only white girls with blond hair are beautiful, these events still set such unrealistic expectations for women regarding weight especially. While pageants still leave a bad taste in my mouth, I do agree with you that small steps are better than none.

  5. After I became a teenager I stopped paying much attention to those contests. It seemed more like they were all about beauty instead of what they claimed to be “scholarship competitions”. While I know race and cultural differences have had their battle to fight in the pageants.

  6. I tend to stay away from these beauty contests. I just think they teach our girls that beauty is the most important thing. I am happy to see the standard changing though when it comes to what is considered beautiful.

  7. I really don’t watch these types of contests. I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder and not stereotypical looks. I am glad to see that some change is coming though.

  8. I used to watch these pageants with my parents when I was younger. Now that I have my own opinions on things I don’t like to pay too much attention because of the “typical beauty type”.. I certainly don’t need another “perfect” woman to help me feel not so great about myself. However, the new Miss Universe is beautiful!

  9. I’m not such a big fan of pageants but I think that they need to spend more time promoting how individuality makes women beautiful instead of wanting all of their contestants to prescribe to this stereotypical notion of what beauty is…

  10. I really do not agree with all this and people classing certain type of people as beautiful,beauty is what lies beneath looks,the persons personality no one should be made to feel they have to be a certain race a certain size etc,my children are mixed race and i would hate someone to tell them they had to be a certain way.

  11. I’ve never been a fan of beauty pageants as they are not about what really matters. Beauty is what is inside, not the outward appearance.
    And the whole race thing you talk about. Well I have a real issue with this. God created 1 race, the human race. Color is pigment in the dermis. Which varies in ALL people, no matter their region or heritage. Some Africans are tan and some dark. Some “white” people are white, tan, olive.
    Beauty is NOT about color. It is not about size. It is not about where you come from but who you are on the inside and what you allow to shine on the outside.

  12. It is sad that we live in a world where white men determine the agenda of who is/isn’t beautiful and ‘we’ buy into it. No matter our ethnicity of race, we’re all the same inside and desire the same things… to be happy.

  13. I don’t watch these types of contests, I think there’s far more than a person’s looks to go on. I just don’t agree with labeling a person for what they look like when what they are made up of inside makes a person. No matter what we look like, where we come from and even color that doesn’t matter…it’s who we are in the inside

  14. When I was younger, I used to watch beauty pageants and wish to be in one. Now, I don’t bother about it and feel like its too fake, but I agree with you that there is more diversity which is a good thing.


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