Beauty pageants are all about glittery dresses, shiny tiaras, tears of joy... and controversy. The latest pageant scandal has emerged in Russia, where the recently crowned Miss Russia is accused of not being "Russian" enough.
Elmira Abdrazakova, crowned Miss Russia 2013 back in March, was born in Kazakhstan but grew up in Russia. Her father, reports Sky News, is Tatar, a historically Muslim ethnic minority group that is one of the oldest in Russia. When Abdrazakova was named Miss Russia, Internet commenters were quick to toss slurs and criticism her way. Based on her appearance, some commenters said, Abdrazakova looks qualified to be Miss Kazakhstan or Miss Uzbekistan but not Miss Russia.
"The nationality question, I don't really understand it," the 18-year-old beauty queen told Sky News. "I don't understand why men would write to a young girl offensive things about her nationality."
This is not the first beauty pageant to spark debate about national identity. In 2012, Miss Fiji Torika Watters drew criticism for not looking "Fijian" enough due to her mixed Fijian/European heritage. After being crowned Miss New Zealand in 2012, Avianca Bohm was promptly told she wasn't actually qualified becayse she was born in South Africa.
On the flip side, Miss Israel recently celebrated its national diversity when it crowned its first black beauty queen, Ehtiopian-born Yityish (Titi) Aynaw.
The Miss Russia pageant is sticking with Abdrazakova, who is going about her pageant duties with a smile. But she did recently tweet the Sky News piece about the backlash against her, meaning she's well aware of her critics.
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