The town of Cairns in Queensland, Australia has found a reason to celebrate; a victory of the town’s native at the Miss Universe 2018 pageant in Bangkok. The Australian media reported that the town is planning to hold a mayoral reception for the newly crowned Miss Universe Catriona Gray, just like they do for their locals who achieve international success in sports. While the town is excited to welcome their Miss Universe for a grand celebration if she visits them, her homecoming will be taking place thousands of miles away in the Philippines. The Australian and Filipino media is currently going head-to-head over Catriona’s nationality. Although Catriona has a dual citizenship, since she won the crown representing the Philippines, the victory belongs to them. But we cannot ignore Catriona’s roots either! Who should have this victory? Philippines or Australia? Why not both?
Globalization has given many things to the world including mixed racial children. It is very common for people to move to different countries for work and raising a family there. Catriona’s background should not have been a problem for anybody. But her mixed race has received mixed reactions from people on both the sides. While the Philippines is gearing up to celebrate their 4th victory at Miss Universe; some Australians are saying if she grew up in Australia and only moved to the Philippines after 2011, she should be their Miss Universe too! There are people in the Philippines who are saying she is not Filipina enough because of her Scottish-Filipino ethnicity. And then there are some people in Australia saying if she is calling herself a Miss Philippines, why should Australians celebrate her! The point both sides are missing here is that both of them are factually correct. Why argue?
Mixed raced queens are not new to the world of pageantry. Australia’s own Miss Universe Australia 2018, Francesca Hung, is half Chinese. For a country like the United States, mixed raced contestants are very common in National pageants. When Nina Davuluri won Miss America, her victory was widely celebrated in India. In 2014, the MUO was gearing up to have a Miss Latina USA contest. As quoted by Osmel Sousa in one of his interviews, Latina USA was cancelled after Nia Sanchez won Miss USA 2014 due to her Mexican roots and because her victory made the Latina USA title meaningless. Nia’s victory was celebrated even by the Mexican fans, and neither Nia nor MUO ever denied her Mexican background. Recently Susie Castillo mentioned in a YouTube video that her victory was celebrated in Puerto Rico as their own victory. In fact there are many Filipino-American girls competing in Miss USA system. If one of these girls wins Miss USA and goes on to win Miss Universe, will the Philippines resist calling her their queen?
When Olivia Culpo had won Miss Universe, her Italian-American ethnicity was also celebrated. Winning Miss Universe is a distant dream for many countries like Italy. During her reign we saw Italian swimwear brand Yamamay signing a multiyear sponsorship deal with MUO. Similarly in the years to come, victories of mixed ethnic or dual citizen girls like Catriona are going to be very common. For some countries, this might actually be a more realistic shot at having a Miss Universe crown. It will be a shame if Catriona’s years of hard work gets tarnished by the fight over her roots. She is an Australian as much as a Filipina. How awesome will it be if she gets two grand homecomings! It will mark a beginning of a truly global era of Miss Universe where more than one country can win!
Author: Jinendra Aherkar