When Kira Kazantsev was crowned the new Miss America on Sunday night, a feeling of déjá vu set in.
Not only was she white — like all but nine of the 94 winners before her — she also fit snugly into a narrowly defined standard of Western female attractiveness: early 20s, long flowing hair and a thin, painstakingly tanned physique that would not seem out of place in a Victoria’s Secret catalog.
In many ways, the Miss Indian World pageant’s definition of what American beauty truly entails is the ideological antithesis to Miss America. Indeed, since 1984, this five-day competition based in Albuquerque, N.M., has honored Native American woman for their contributions to their communities, not their bikini bodies. The top award is given to the contestant who “best represents her culture,” according to Al Jazeera.
Why this pageant is world’s better