Ignore The Racist Tweets — Will An Indian Miss America Actually Change Anything?

Moments after Indian-American Nina Davuluri was crowned 2013, a flood of on Twitter (surprise, surprise) were quick to point out the beauty queen’s non-white ethnicity.

For some , angry individuals tweeted ignorant and racist remarks about Davuluri’s and her so-called relation to al-Qaeda, 9/11, 7/11, and the demise of the American by crowning an Arab. Idiots.

Davuluri, 24, who is the first contestant of to be crowned Miss America, responded to her haters (and her fans) with a of embracing diversity and rising above racism.

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

While she can certainly be a for other South who are picked on for their brown skin, is being part of a the best way to send this message? As the history of pageants go, they’ve always been degrading.

Thousands of women from all over the world compete their best talents and parade in swimsuits and gowns, judged on their appearances and scored on their performances. It’s become a circus, though some things have changed for the better because of years of and protests. Even though shows have stopped announcing contestants’ breast, waist and hip measurements (ugh, this was a thing) the emphasis is squarely on how these women look.

These changes aside, pageants — especially child pageants — have been linked to increased , impulsive behaviours and the constant pressure to be and feel perfect.

So if Davuluri’s message was to get kids to relate to her, is she biting more off than she can chew?

Sure, it’s always nice to see a coloured, non-heterosexual (case in point Jenna Talackova) or disabled (this year’s Miss Iowa was born without her left forearm) woman challenge the concept of ideal beauty and what it really means to be confident in your own skin.

Davuluri herself has also come a long way. She struggled with bulimia, and leading up to the pageant, tabloids (and even other contestants) had fat-shamed her for photos where she appeared up to 50 pounds heavier.

But as far as impact goes, I hope Davuluri can really make a difference and start an important conversation on racism and even body image. Right now, she still has the stage.

A closer look at the ceremony:

About Arti Patel