Not As Fair, Just As Lovely: Panidepu Crowned Miss Virginia Teen USA
Various steps have been taken to promote a reform in media’s attention to what is considered beautiful, but society still has a long way to go in terms of breaking the social construct of beauty. It’s undoubtedly hard to effectively raise awareness about these issues in society, but Himanvi Panidepu took it a step further and accomplished a greater goal for Indian American females facing the self-stigma surrounding their not-so European facial features. On October 22, 2017, she was crowned Miss Virginia Teen USA. She is the first ever Indian America to win the contest. There have been quite a few Indian American winners in various beauty pageants in the past, but one major feature about Panidepu is what makes her even more worth bringing attention to; her skin tone. Being a dark-skinned Indian American winner, she successfully put a dent in two highly prominent social constructs in society regarding which race is beautiful and which skin tone of the race is beautiful. By being crowned Miss Virginia Teen USA, Panidepu subtly yet strongly conveyed a clear message to all dark-skinned Indian American females resorting to lightening products or conforming to other socially acceptable facial features: The power to define beauty cannot be given to the narrow-minded society we live in, but each individual is beautiful in her own way and has the capability to change the definition through achievements such as Panidepu’s.