As Adam noted below, Miss USA crowned its first Arab-American, and first Muslim, Rima Fakih, last night. I never know what to say about these triumphs of diversity in arenas I otherwise find objectionable. There's a diversity argument to be made about the win -- Tyra Banks, who was the first black model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, trumpets that accomplishment as a win for black women, for example. And yes, it's definitely nice to see mainstream standards of beauty shift to a more inclusive view of what Americans really look like. But then again, it's like, "Congratulations on being exploited in a whole new way."
I'm also not sure it's evidence of anything broader happening in the beauty standards world. I imagine you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in the real world who doesn't think Fakih is beautiful, with or without the pageant win. It doesn't mean they wouldn't have problematic views about her beauty, or her place in America. It's hard to cheer for anything that she "strutt[ed] confidently in an orange and gold bikini" to win.
So a win for Fakih is still an overall lose for women, and the country. But it was also nice that Fakih, who said she thought the health-care bill should pay for birth-control pills, won over Miss Oklahoma, Elizabeth Woolard, who said she supported ArIzona's new anti-immigration law. Small victories.
-- Monica Potts
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