Last Saturday, in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination in Philly, Miss Teen USA Karlie Hay gracefully accepted her own crown.
Hay’s Las Vegas competition, which featured a personal interview component as well as evening gown and athletic wear categories, was equally hard won. The Texas native was faced with the challenge of a lifetime—a final five lineup including four of her blonde, Southern doppelgängers. When the competition’s Twitter account shared an eerie picstitch of these proto-Stepford Wives, queen of Twitter Chrissy Teigen immediately took issue, sarcastically musing, “Wow how can we choose from such a diverse bunch.”
The teen beauty pageant, which is celebrating its very first year sans creepy swimsuit competition, has never been famous for its progressive politics. Still, hand-selecting five blonde slices of Wonder Bread out of a relatively diverse group of 51 teen pageant queens was not a good call. You can’t pull that kind of shit anymore—it’s 2016, and we have Twitter now (and Chrissy Teigen)!
Due to its relative obscurity—the Miss Teen USA pageant has been exclusively streamed via webcast since 2008—it would take more than an Aryan final five for the pageant to cause a national controversy. Luckily for us, fans only had to take a quick gander at pageant winner Karlie Hay’s old Tweets to discover that America’s new Miss Teen USA liberally throws the N-word around on social media.
Twitter archeologists dug up at least six separate instances of the very white Texan using the racial slur in posts dating from 2013 to 2014. Even more shockingly, Hay’s personal Twitter wasn’t even private (obviously, it is now). If athleisure is considered a crownable skill, then there should definitely be a Miss Teen USA category for basic social media savvy.
Miss Teen USA 2010 Kamie Crawford probably said it best: “If u win any pageant - first things first. Clean up ur page. Cus if ur under 21 u shouldn’t b drinking & if ur WHITE the n word ain’t yo word!”
Hay’s decision to Tweet like no one was watching may have distinguished her from the otherwise interchangeable competition, but it also landed her in some pretty hot water. The 18-year-old aspiring businesswoman formally apologized on Sunday, explaining, “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.” In summation, Karlie Hay used racial slurs as a therapeutic method during a hard time in her teendom, but she’s feeling a lot better now, thanks for asking! Truly inspiring.
The real message here is that racism, unlike nudity or light recreational drug use, somehow doesn’t affect a woman’s ability to be crowned a national role model. The Miss Universe Organization corroborated Hay’s interpretation of her racist behavior as a minor hiccup, explaining, “The language Karlie Hay used is unacceptable at any age and in no way reflects the values of The Miss Universe Organization. As Karlie stated, she was in a different place in her life and made a serious mistake she regrets and for which she sincerely apologizes.” Having lightly chastised Hay’s behavior, the organization concluded that it was “committed to supporting her continued growth.” In other words, you’re going to have to pry that crown out of Karlie Hay’s cold, dead, privileged hands—because as of now, her Miss Teen USA title stands.