19 maio 2010
Miss USA 2010: beauty and beastliness
Rima Fakih's victory in the Miss USA 2010 beauty pageant shows off America's weirdness on all sorts of levels
Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010. Photograph: Miss Universe Organization
It's hard to think of a single event that so effortlessly combines the multiple contradictions at the heart of American life than this: the victory of Miss Michigan, Rima Fakih, an Arab American, in the Miss USA 2010 beauty pageant. It involves the following elements: Las Vegas (where the pageant was held), television (NBC, co-promoter), Donald Trump (the pageant's other co-promoter), sexism (again, obviously), and manufactured blogger controversy (sigh).
Last year, you may recall, this competition was sullied by Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who claimed she was discriminated against because of her comments on same-sex marriage (she was against it) in reply to a question from judge Perez Hilton. This year it's the fact that Rima Fakih is from a Lebanese Christian-Muslim family, making her the first Muslim women to win the Miss USA title – which manages to be a step forward and a step backwards at the same time, depending what you think of beauty pageants. Here's the details from AP:
Fakih took top honors at the pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip after strutting confidently in an orange and gold bikini, wearing a strapless white gown that resembled a wedding dress and saying health insurance should cover birth control pills.
Fakih, an Arab-American from Dearborn, Michigan, told pageant organizers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths. She moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York, where she attended a Catholic school. Her family moved to Michigan in 2003.
Last year the conservative blogosphere was aflame defending Ms Prejean's right to her opinions. This year it's aflame (well, small and crazy parts of it are) with defamatory and absurd suggestions about Fakih's family that don't bear linking to.
Arab Americans in Michigan are certainly pleased by the result. "This is historic," Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told the Detroit Free Press. "This shows the greatness of America, how everyone can have a chance to make it."
If it were possible to make matters even more absurd, this year's runner-up, Morgan Elizabeth Woolard, representing Oklahoma, was asked what she thought of Arizona's new immigration law. Perhaps with Prejean's cautionary fate in mind, Woolard replied that she is against illegal immigration but is also opposed to racial profiling: "I'm a huge believer in states' rights. I think that's what's so wonderful about America," she said.