16-Year-Old Pageant Queen Stripped of Her Crown for Looking 'Too Western'

Illustration for article titled 16-Year-Old Pageant Queen Stripped of Her Crown for Looking 'Too Western'

Well, I know I don't need to tell you guys this, because you've been raptly following the results of the Miss World Fiji pageant, but the Miss World Fiji pageant has turned into a real shit-show. Following complaints from concerned citizens, pageant officials have decided to take the title away from this year's winner, 16-year-old Torika Watters, and present it to another contestant who better "represents Fijian beauty."


Watters is of mixed race, and critics suggested that she looks "too Western" and represents a whitewashing of international beauty standards.

In the first of two confusing sub-shit-shows, pageant director Andhy Blake explained Watters's disqualification by saying that she is too young to compete, despite having personally approved a waiver for her to enter the pageant. Then, in shit-show part troix, a pageant judge has come forward claiming that the entire thing was a sham:

He said there was no note-taking or judging criteria during the competition and that from early on, Blake had pressured the judges to name Watters the winner. Hoerder said that he tried to argue with Blake to no avail and, in protest, refused to attend the final night's crowning ceremony.

BAH! I don't even know what to do with this whole mess.

One the one hand, beauty pageants are stupid, so why am I even caring right now? Oh, who's going to win our meaningless International Objectification Jamboree? Will it be this beautiful skinny woman, or this other beautiful skinny woman? Yay, let's base the award for Earth's Best Woman on purely physical characteristics! Great message.

On the other hand, I am obviously uncomfortable with whiteness infiltrating the standards of beauty of other cultures, and it's something that needs be bitched about. That is some insidious shit, and the internalization of white beauty ideals damages a lot of people (mostly women). It's also a really difficult thing to police, so if a culture determines for itself that that infiltration is not acceptable, then I support that determination.

On the other other hand, is it really a bad thing to challenge racial boundaries? Do "white-looking" Fijians not get to consider themselves Fijians? If a kid is born to Ethiopian immigrants in Norway, is he not a Norwegian because he doesn't look like Draco Malfoy? Is the point of a Miss World pageant to present some sort of "It's a Small World After All" tableau wherein every contestant must look as much like a stereotype of their country as possible? Is that helpful?


On the millionth hand, globalization and stuff! A white woman (hypothetically) becoming Miss India does not have the same cultural impact as a black woman becoming Miss America. White people already win all the stuff. A black woman winning Miss America is adjusting that disparity in the right direction. A white woman winning Miss India is basically cultural colonialism. Trying to analyze this situation as though the global playing field is level veers uncomfortably close to "reverse racism" territory, which is a concept even stupider than beauty pageants.

On the millionth + 1 hand, I just feel bad for that girl. She's only 16, she can't help what she looks like, and she was probably really, really excited about winning a special fancy crown.



Okay. Essentially what the Miss World Fiji pageant is saying is this: "Well, we know one thing—we definitely want to objectify women. We just want to make sure we're objectifying them in the most socially responsible way possible." Cool. Fine. Do whatever you want, you old bats.


Jenna Sauers

I wonder how long it will be before Fiji names an Indo-Fijian Miss Fiji. It would probably trigger another coup.