On July 30, Miss Teen USA crowned Karlie Hay from Texas as their newest winner. As expected, she definitely cried when she received the win. But other people were not so thrilled with Hay’s newly-placed crown. Those displeased with her recent win have said they don’t believe that someone who has repeatedly used racist language in the past should be a representative for teen girls.
Hay found herself dragged on social media after people found a Twitter account in her name with several posts that use the N-word. Although she was not necessarily attempting to insult or degrade anyone with the posts, appropriation of the word and its casual use is still an act of racism. However, despite the use of the offensive word, Hay will still be able to keep her crown and title.
This Miss Universe Organization issued a statement on Saturday, stating that they will stand behind Hay despite her actions. They do criticize her language, indicating that they don’t reflect the values of the organization. However, they also acknowledge Hay’s apology as sincere and “are committed to supporting her continued growth.” On Hay’s part, she took to Instagram a few hours after receiving the crown to express her regret for her past actions:
View this post on Instagram
Several years ago, I had many personal struggles and found myself in a place that is not representative of who I am as a person. I admit that I have used language publicly in the past which I am not proud of and that there is no excuse for. Through hard work, education and thanks in large part to the sisterhood that I have come to know through pageants, I am proud to say that I am today a better person. I am honored to hold this title and I will use this platform to promote the values of The Miss Universe Organization, and my own, that recognize the confidence, beauty and perseverance of all women.
While Hay rightfully holds herself accountable in her post, it’s only a part of a bigger issue in this year’s Miss Teen USA. Many have noticed and commented on the complete lack of diversity among the finalists for the competition. All of the girls in the Top 5 had blonde hair, blue eyes and white skin, each one looking very similar to the next. Twitter took to disdainfully calling out the Miss Teen USA pageant for its whitewashed representation. Even Chrissy Teigen posted about it:
"There's literally no diversity in the Miss USA pageant"
White folk: "UMm ExCUse ME?" pic.twitter.com/Q3JdWYvrji
— Janet Snakehole (@Ivanchapman1) July 31, 2016
Wow how can we choose from such a diverse bunch https://t.co/0a4JHbP465
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) July 31, 2016
The lack of diversity, combined with Hay’s prior use of racist language, have not put Miss Teen USA in a favorable light. In a year filled with racial tension and politics, every little thing counts. Hopefully, the organization will take a leaf out of its own book and support its own continued growth too.