Miss Universe Japan — spectacle, race, and dreams

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2015-03-22 01:34Z by Steven

Miss Universe Japan — spectacle, race, and dreams

Grits and Sushi: my musings on okinawa, race, militarization, and blackness

Mitzi Uehara Carter

The newly crowned Miss Universe Japan is Blackanese. No, she’s Japanese. No, she’s Haafu. Multiracial? Mixed? Japanese enough to represent Japan in a silly beauty contest? Ariana Miyamoto is from Nagasaki, Japan and her win has whipped up both excitement and disdain. The issue of representation has emerged yet again for those anxious about the nation’s performance on the global beauty stage. National beauty pageants are always a site where race and gender intersect in messy ways and the spectacle of “national authentic beauty” in international pageants can be even more convoluted. Miyamoto’s racial difference has sparked a series of interesting questions about how to identify “Japaneseness” through the body of women.

Weather you’re a pageant supporter or not, you can’t ignore how potent the social commentary these kinds of wins can be in everyday discourse. A careful analysis can tell us more about the framing of race in mainstream Japanese and transnational media circuits. While people outside Japan seem to be generally fascinated by the fact that this Japanese woman with her obvious African ancestry has been named “Ms. Universe Japan,” the commentary in Japanese social media is a bit more varied and well, echoes some made in the US, when a New Yorker of Indian descent, Nina Davaluri, won the Ms. America pageant in 2013…

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