On my 16th birthday I wore a plastic tiara.
I went to the mall wearing my tiara, I went to Graeter’s wearing my tiara.
Not to mention, I also wore a pink sash that read “Happy Birthday!” in white letters.
I was a princess.
I’ve grown up in theatre. Most of my friends want to be princesses (regardless of gender). I know people who legitimately want to be employed at Disney World and dress up as princesses for a living. Most of them could be any princess they want — Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Ariel, Rapunzel, Snow White.
But me? I could only be Jasmine. Or Tiana, but just barely. My skin is too dark for me to be the belle of the ball. I’m not supposed to be a princess.
I have the utmost respect for Nina Davuluri. I want to be her. Not only is she Indian-American, but she is even better than a princess — Nina is a queen. And a beautiful one, at that.
I’ve never understood how pageants are judged, but I’ve never thought that it is done fairly. How do you determine the quality of someone’s character by their looks? It’s disgusting. But it’s done so elegantly that you can’t help but admire.
Nina is a role model, for obvious reasons. But I’ve seen the comments people have made. “She’s not the real Miss America,” “Have we forgotten 9/11?” And so many more. Such an upsettingly large amount more.
Two years ago, my sister and I went to the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. II movie premiere. We dressed in homemade Gryffindor Quidditch robes and I drew a lightning bolt with eyeliner on my forehead.
“Are you guys the Patel twins?” people would ask as we stood in line at the theater. A valid question, and I acknowledge that dressing as Padma and Parvati would have probably served as much more convincing. But even with my lightning bolt people didn’t call me Harry.
Even with her tiara Nina isn’t called Miss America (by some).
What’s wrong with our culture? I want to see the day when a minority wins and doesn’t get criticized by a significant amount of people.
“I have to rise above that,” Nina told the Associated Press. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”
I’ve visited India several times. I understand an Indian language. My iPod is stocked with Bollywood film songs. I would rather have a roti than a peanut butter sandwich — but at the end of the day, I’m an American. I’m living an American life, chasing that American dream.
Can’t I be a princess, too?