Miss Japan faces racism

Ariana Miyamoto is the first-ever mixed-race Miss Universe Japan that will represent Japan in the 2015 Miss Universe pageant in January.

Miyamoto is half Japanese and half African American, born and raised in Nagasaki and speaks fluent Japanese.

However when she entered Japan’s Miss Universe qualification pageant, she was scared that her multiracial looks would disqualify her from the competition.

Instead of celebrating her huge victory, she had to deal with the criticism and nasty comments from people saying that she was “not Japanese enough” to represent Japan in the competition. “If someone is chosen as Miss Japan, both her parents should be Japanese,” high school student Tomoki Nogami told CNN.

Growing up, Miyamoto was bullied. People threw trash at her, called her racial slurs and told her that she has too much black blood in her to be Japanese.

According to Japanese beauty standards, those with pale white skin are beautiful —but Miyamoto’s skin color is the exact opposite.

Plenty of multiracial people’s identities are erased because they are told they don’t look like the ethnicities they identify with, or they “don’t look (ethnicity here) enough.” Physical appearance can be a huge indicator of what race or ethnicity you are, but to make assumptions of people’s identities because of how they look is presumptuous and reinforces racial stereotypes.

Miyamoto is the epitome of a beauty queen, with talent, poise and grace. Her victory of the title reveals that she is breaking down the barriers of typical Japanese beauty standards.

Despite the harsh words by many, including those from her hometown, Miyamoto uses the criticism as a push and motivation in training harder for Miss Universe. She hopes to change the mindset of her homeland’s mindset of beauty and what it means to be Japanese — someone who represents the country with pride, not just with looks.

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