The Friday before last, I went in to the MRBI station do a few radio spots to promote Miss Asia. My half hour conversation with Sunny, one of the "talent" at MRBI, turned into 45 minutes and then into an hour, partially because I don't normally get to have conversations about how to do effective out-reach to the AA community, and partially because I think Sunny wanted me to say something less intellectual and I wasn't doing it.
The spots are centered around what makes a great pageant contestant and what being in a pageant can do for a contestant. We had a great, fun conversation, but Sunny was convinced that people just want to hear what they have heard before, which is something like: beauty pageants are not just about outer beauty but also inner beauty-- giving contestants the chance to showcase and explore their beauty,
or about how style can reflect one's personality and being asked to evaluate and discover personal style can do wonders for one's self-esteem.
Not that I don't agree with these statements, but I strongly feel like bringing Miss Asia from Asia to the US has much more interesting implications for contestants than what we've already been fed about beauty pageants in the past.
In many ways, the young women who participate in beauty contests created for specific ethnic communities in the US become part of the glue which holds the community together. This is true especially of the Asian American community since we simply do not have many of the kind of community driven traditions it takes to breed cohesiveness, and beauty pageants by nature have the power to drive it.
That said, there are similar programs within the US already in place today, organizations which are well established, largely successful and serve their communities well, such as Nisei Queen (held in LA) and Miss Chinatown (various cities across the US), but are divided along ethnic cultural lines. As well attended and supported as these ethnically specific contests are, when there is a competition such as Miss Asian America, the power to unite Asians as Americans is tenfold. If you look at the Miss Asian America sponsorship list alone, "the proof of pudding is in the eating." When faced with something of that scale, Asian Americans can not be denied as an integral piece of what makes America, America.
Now take it out of the US and put it on the world stage. It's another way for Asian Americans to represent America proudly, another reason for America to claim Asian Americans as its own, another reason for other Americans view us as their own. The producers at ATV are recognizing Asian Americans as an important population, we should too.
After about an hour of bantering back and forth to come up with ideas we could agree on for the record, Sunny got some sound bites about how Miss Asia is about inner and outer beauty and I got to add one quality that I believe is key to the perfect candidate: Community Savvy-- someone who has a good perception of what it truly
can mean to be Miss Asia New York, Miss Asia Los Angeles or Miss Asia San Francisco.
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