Pageant winner Arianna Quan has become a minor celebrity on both sides of the Pacific. The Beijing-born 23-year-old will represent her home state of Michigan next month in the Miss America Pageant.

At age 6, Quan moved with her family from China to the United States and became a naturalized citizen at 14.

Last week, the Bloomfield beauty bested 33 other contestants with her piano playing, passion for immigration reform, and, of course, what she looked like in a swimsuit.

(This is the part where non-Americans can roll their eyes at the rampant swinish sexism which infests our society. Got it out of your system? Excellent, continuing ...)

China is no stranger to vapid proclamations of feminine beauty. There are the bizarre People’s Daily slideshows celebrating the “scenery” at major Party events, strict requirements for flight attendants, and of course, the ongoing epidemic everywhere of narcissistic selfie abuse

Quan’s candidacy has also raised issues of identity and beauty among the Chinese global community. Her win sparked a round of online debate, including intimations that Quan would not pass muster in her homeland. Think of it as the “Lucy Liu Syndrome.”

Similar controversies erupted over previous winners. Angela Perez Baraquio, a Filipino-American representing Hawaii, claimed the tiara in 2012 only to face an onslaught of online racism. In 2014, Miss New York Nina Davuluri won the Miss America pageant to encounter a similar round of racism at home and questions in India about whether she would be considered “too dark” to win a pageant in South Asia.

Quan has also spoken about her own struggles with identity. 

In an interview given to Brandon Champion on the website MLive.com, Quan admitted that being one of the only Asian-Americans in her classes was difficult. "I think it's innate in every teenager's upbringing that whatever makes you different is something that you should be ashamed about.” 

On her website, Quan writes, “I find it absolutely imperative to speak out on subject matters that so many immigrants and foreign born citizens face in our ever polarizing society.”

For now, Quan can use her USD 12,000 to continue her studies at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit where she is majoring in Transportation Design.

Quan will join contestants from all 50 US states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico at the 2017 Miss America Pageant on September 11, 2016.

Photos: mlive.com, itsariannaquan.com


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