First Arab-American, Rima Fakih, Wins Miss USA

In what has been billed locally as the first Arab-American to win, Michigan’s Rima Fakih won the Miss USA pageant tonight.

The 24-year-old brunette from Michigan beat out four blondes and 46 other women for the 2010 Miss USA title after nearly stumbling in her evening gown.

Fakih won the pageant Sunday night after swimsuit, evening gown and interview competitions.

During the competition, Fakih nearly fell while finishing her walk in a long, strapless gown because of the length of its train, but she recovered without a spill and went on to win.

In the interview, Fakih was asked whether she thought birth control should be paid for by health insurance, and she said she believed it should.

Meanwhile, runner up Miss Oklahoma Morgan Elizabeth Woolard said she supported AZ’s anti-immigration law.

Miss Oklahoma USA Morgan Elizabeth Woolard was first runner-up after handling a question about Arizona’s new immigration law. She said she supports it.

Detroit Free Press did a long profile of Fakih earlier today–detailing not only how Arab-American anti-discrimination groups funded some of Fakih’s earlier pageant competitions–including the swimsuit competitions, but also how she was raised in Catholic schools, with her family celebrating both Muslim and Christian holidays.

How come beauty pageants have become the big focus of politics of late?

Update: As Doug Mataconis notes on Twitter, the wingnuts are complaining that Miss Oklahoma was robbed by a (per Debbie Schlussel) “Hezbollah-supporting Shi’ite Muslim.”

On cue, the Wingnuts go into frothing-mouth crazy mode b/c a Muslim-American won Miss USA pageant and

And add in Daniel Pipes, who apparently has a collection of third-rate pageants won by Muslims. (h/t Ezra Klein)

105 replies
  1. Neil says:

    How come beauty pageants have become the big focus of politics of late?
    … What is because they are as American as apple pie?

    I turned to the pageant for about 2 minutes tonight and as it happened that is was the two minutes Miss Oklahoma USA Morgan Elizabeth Woolard was asked and answered that question. I was surprised they’d ask such a topical and somewhat controversial question and not surprised by how she answered it.

      • Petrocelli says:

        Great question, Canucks stopped the Miss Canada pageant a long time ago, because it’s so sexist.

        “Ms. Anything” pageants make as much sense as Purity Balls.

        *Oops, I said Balls on Marcy’s blog* *g*

          • skdadl says:

            Clammies? What are those, please? Somebody has something against clambakes?

            Morning, Petro. I see you’re feeling your oats today.

        • DWBartoo says:

          Greetings, to the wise sage of the Northlands.

          Be this the politics of pulchritude, or the pious purity of politude?



        • Leen says:

          three cheers for Canada. What a twisted message for young women for all women. Is there a mens beauty contest in the USA? Where men wear tight ass bathing suits so we can see the goods? Where we can judge them based on their beauty, the way they walk in heels, display their talents (baton twirling or whatever)?

          • skdadl says:

            Pipe majors twirl their batons. The more daring actually toss ’em. They show their legs, too. Canada is fairly paved with men in skirts who can twirl batons. ;-)

          • BoxTurtle says:

            Is there a mens beauty contest in the USA? Where men wear tight ass bathing suits so we can see the goods?

            Sell the 60 or so 30 second advertising spots for that contest and Fox can have it on the air before summer is over.

            There are bodybuilding constest for men, but I don’t think they’ve ever made it higher on the broadcast scale than ESPN3.

            Face it, there a lot more interest in staring at barely clothed females than at barely clothed males.

            Boxturtle (If it weren’t for Porn, the internet as it exists today wouldn’t be here)

            • Leen says:

              All depends… or is it just more accepted, expected and fueled. We all grew up with this horseshit.

              • BoxTurtle says:

                I think it’s simply kids, pure and simple. My generation offended our parents by having males grow their hair long and wear platform shoes and the girls would were tube tops or halters and spray on jeans.

                Each generation had to top the prior generation to get under their parents skin and prove their independence.

                Punk hair styles. Tattoos. Thongs. Tattoos in intimate places, with clothing designed to show just that spot. Body piercing. Sexting.

                And the most extreme seem to be the clique leaders.

                My parents would have made me get a haircut, if only they could. They would have stopped me from dating the girl with the scoop top. They would have stopped me from going to rock concerts, if only they had known what they were really like.

                I just wanted my stepson to NOT date the girl with the black lipstick, fishnet stockings, and leather skirt.

                Boxturtle (And I was an idiot. That “girl” now has an MS in Organic Chemistry)

                • Leen says:

                  “it’s simply kids” bullshit! Did you raise girls? Ask them. Ask their friends. The pressure is much greater. Heavy expectation for girls to give blowjobs without anything in return. The “hooking up” thing is huge.

                  Now in my book all of these urges are normal. But the pressure, the one way street, the acceptance, the parents not talking to their kids.

                  This type of contest continues to fuel womens issues around self esteem, anorexia and bulimia what we are taught to define as beauty and what we value in our culture?
                  “Beauty is STILL the currency out there”

                  “MARGARET CHO: I think the fascination with beauty pageants is that there can be a winner. That there are certain rules, guidelines that constitute beauty, that it is not necessarily in the eye of the beholder. That we as the collective beholder have agreed on certain qualities that create beauty and uh that there can be a contest to judge it. It’s this fascinating thing. TRICIA ROSE: What gets defined as beauty? I mean, it’s not unlike high fashion supermodels in that the bodies that work are the bodies that are least like what women look like. So what are we saying? What are we actually saying about what women look like when we say, well you know what, to be most beautiful you have to not look like what women look like?

                  ISAAC MIZRAHI, Designer: I think that fashion and beauty is everything in the way a woman marks her identity today, unfortunately. But I can’t think of a period of time when it wasn’t about that, and there are all sorts of obvious manifestations of that you know, the length of your skirt, the size of your waist. But there are other even more subtle things. Like when you shave your legs, even if you’re wearing pants that day you feel three times prettier, I think.

                  JULIA ALVAREZ: You know, there’s a yearning in the human spirit, an aspiring for beauty. And, the successful man still has a beautiful woman on his arm. That’s the prize. It’s been our power structure and it’s…it’s still operative. Beauty is still the currency out there.

                  GLORIA STEINEM, Writer: The traditional way to get ahead is to compete with other women for the favors of men, you know and this is not different from any other marginalized or less powerful group. You’re supposed to compete with each other for the favors of the powerful. So what could be a greater example of that than a beauty contest?


                  Young children (girls) beauty pageants


      • Neil says:

        And why is there a Miss America and a Miss USA?

        Dunno – its a good franchise if you can get it?

        • Leen says:

          Display their goods to the highest bidders with some money and pr opportunities as the prize. Same game different strategy.

          Basically all about men whacking waldo.

          Just flip the script. 20 something young men walking across the stage in tight speedo’s yeah what the hell put high heels on them (let’s see if they can walk) and we (how about a bunch of 40, 50, 60 something older women) are all out here talking about their asses, package and how beautiful they are. Just flip the script. Does it feel right?

          • Neil says:

            As I said, I wasn’t watching so when I tuned it in and heard the Q&A it sounded like a setup. I didn’t have any context but in that moment I decided I had seen/heard enough.

            Beauty pageants are emblematic of a culture obsessed with youth (death really) beauty and sex, despite notions of a puritanical self-identity. Of course there are victims. What would you do about it?

      • Neil says:

        Yes she was extremely well prepared for it and I bet her answer matched popular opinion. Kudos to her for playing the game and winning.

        As I said, I wasn’t watching so when I tuned it in and heard the Q&A it sounded like a setup. I didn’t have any context but in that moment I decided I had seen/heard enough.

  2. prostratedragon says:

    Why now, I’ve no idea. So far as minorities are concerned, they have been a way of trying to create an easy starting point from which to pursue the whole we-too-are-valuable-human-beings thing; don’t knock it till you’ve given due consideration to how excruciating it is to have to do that.

    But of course, much of the current focus has been coming from elsewhere in the social spectrum, hasn’t it? From that perspective maybe anything one could say about gender roles being forcibly dragged back 50 years, discourses being deliberately cheapened by emphasizing the “contributions” of those with no special qualifications (or worse), or as often happens, the bestirring of the public hound to the chase of beauty queen or athlete scapegoat, sounds pretty good to me.

  3. prostratedragon says:

    Oh, and congrats to Ms. Fakih.

    During the competition, Fakih nearly fell while finishing her walk in a long, strapless gown

    Does that ever happen when one is not at a local peak in one’s personal styling? I mean, really!! Someone once told me an apt story demonstrating that it happens to animals, even.

    Seems this exceptional 64-point (or whatever) buck was strolling about the roads of Ann Arbor late one cold, clear night when the narrator came across him, stopping just in time to avert a collision. The buck shook it off with a faintly contemptuous glance at the driver, “I had it all under control,” you know, then strutted away, leaving the man in a state of slack-jawed awe, finishing with a beautiful, full-layout, bounding leap over a car on the other side of the road.

    Which it didn’t quite clear.

    Now, since as an occasional cat owner I have actually seen embarrassed animals, I can readily believe that the buck was heard cussing in plain English as it struggled off the car and disappeared into a nearby thicket of trees …

    • PJEvans says:

      I saw an embarrassed peacock once. (Yes, it was that clear. He flew down from a roof to a driveway and had his feet slide out from under on the landing. ‘You didn’t see that’ would sum it up nicely.)

      • prostratedragon says:

        Just love those moments of oneness with nature!!

        Did anyone upthread get this speed record breaker: “This is the girl.”. I think we all knew they were going to do it, but wow, the next day.

  4. ecthompson says:

    First, let me say that I’m surprised that you are covering the Ms. America contest. I stopped watching after Vanessa Williams had her crown taken away.

    Secondly, I just don’t know what the purpose of Ms. America is. I do know was Playboy’s playmate of the year is all about but this thing, this Ms. America pageant is something else. Talent contest. Really?

    Congratulations to Ms. Rima Fakih. Ms. Fakih is stunningly beautiful but can she blog?

    • larryv says:

      Its Miss USA not Miss America. Miss USA is “the Donalds” organization. Last year we had to endure the carey Prejean crap….hopefully by crowning an Arab-American heads are exploding in Texas, Mississippi,Oklahoma, South Carolina the very heart of beauty contestdom. Dunno bout you but I think its a hoot and she is a real looker to boot.

  5. ghostof911 says:

    How come beauty pageants have become the big focus of politics of late?

    Thanks to Hockey Mom, it’s become the new way that potential candidates are groomed for high office.

  6. RAMA says:

    How come beauty pageants have become the big focus of politics of late?

    Because we have not even begun to plumb the depths of ignorance in this country.

  7. BoxTurtle says:

    Politics be darned. The point of the contest is to watch a large number of beautiful, unmarried females strut along a runway in swimsuits while thinking pornographic thoughts. And pretending to be discussing the talent portion of the contest.

    Boxturtle (Proud Pig!)

    • Leen says:


      The continued and expanding pressure on young women and young men to have sex early is immense.

      These types of contest only add fuel to the fire.

      Did you folks ever see Katie Couric’s special on teens and sex? While the phenomena of the expectation that young men have that young women are going to give them blowjobs whenever they feel the need.
      “Garon: “I’m 15 and I’m from New Hampshire. I wish I could talk to my parents about how hard it is to be a teenager because it’s a lot harder than they think. And they think school is like that. But I don’t think my parents could walk a day in my shoes.

      To walk in their shoes, you need to learn their language, terms like “hooking up,” “friends with benefits” and the bases these days are a whole new ball game.

      Maia: “I’m 14 and I live in Oregon. First would be like kissing; second base would be like making out; third would be, like oral sex.”

      Almost every parent has heard some shocking story but we wanted to get the truth behind the rumor mill. So along with PEOPLE Magazine, NBC News commissioned an unprecedented national poll of 1,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 16. Using scientific methods, the survey provides some of the first real numbers on the sexual attitudes and behaviors of young teens.

      14 percent of 13 and 14-year-olds say they are sexually active, which means they have gone beyond kissing. That number jumps to 41 percent when kids reach 15 and 16.

      Kierstin: “Our generation is supposed to be known as the wild one, anyway. I mean it’s been the wild one.”

      We not only questioned 1000 teens, we also polled their parents. And not surprisingly, the generation gap still exists. In fact, it may be wider than ever.

      27 percent of young teens say they have been with someone in an intimate or sexual way.

      But according to our poll, half of the parents of those teens think their kids have done nothing more than kiss.

      Kierstin: “It’s everybody else but your own child, that’s the denial part of it.”

      Katie Couric: “I think you’ll probably agree with me that most parents like myself are pretty much clueless.”

      Clueless and, in the case of our parents, concern”

  8. UncommonSense says:

    How come beauty pageants have become the big focus of politics of late?

    Because beautiful young women in swimsuits are… beautiful young women in swimsuits. People will take any excuse to talk about them and look at them.

  9. Margaret says:

    Say it ain’t so! Not a AY-RAB! Oh those Al Quaeda judges and their librul agenda. I KNEW this would happen when that Kenyan named Hussein was put into the White House. /s

  10. BoxTurtle says:

    And another thing: Miss Ok seemed awfully prepared for that question. You don’t suppose she knew the question in advance, do you?

    Boxturtle (The Donald commonly uses beauty to promote his positions)

  11. WilliamOckham says:

    Really? The wingnuts are upset about a beauty pageant? They really are bent on self-destruction. Hint to wingnuts: you’re cutting yourself off from your base when you hate on a pretty woman.

    By the way, I’ve recently discovered that many Muslim-Americans send their kids to Catholic schools because they’re more interested in the quality of the education than the religious indoctrination. Of course, the Religious Right will suffer massive head explosions when they figure that out, since they are more interested in religious indoctrination when they send their kids to private schools.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, the Catholic school thing is actually no big deal. I think the profile of her is actually more interesting for the portrayal of the kind of hybrid culture that Americans of all sorts live under, notably with the Christian and Muslim holiday celebrations.

      And as exploitative as beauty pageants are, there’s no quicker way to challenge the stereotype that all Arab-Americans and/or Muslims wear hijab or more than with a beauty pageant.

  12. Leen says:

    Oh great Arab American women have fallen into the seductive trap/ contest/pageant set up with blessings and prizes to objectify women. What a great message.

    I brought up three daughters (32,30,23) The billions of dollars spent on pressuring young women to wear what billion dollar marketing firms and billion dollar fashion industry outlets determine are “sexy” is so fucking disgusting. The pressure on young women these days to look how the market place has determined is the “look” is especially effective and oppressive these days.

    The fact that there is a Miss USA pageant where women strut their goods in bathing suits and terribly uncomfortable (try it fellas.. you guys are not that fucking gullible) high heels demonstrates once again that the objectification of women is as alive today as it was 50 or 100 years ago.

  13. fatster says:

    And in other news about festivities, somebody at the NRA overlooked checking with state laws and local rules and regs when scheduling their event:

    Don’t shoot: NRA bans guns from its annual meeting



  14. bmaz says:

    You pick this post to not attach a photo (say of Fakih in a swimsuit)? What the hell is going on at this blog???

    • BoxTurtle says:

      I’m sure if YOU had authored this post, there would have been a proper photo. Bet Marcy would have posted a photo if it had been a mens contest. :-)

      Boxturtle (Sexist pig link)

      • BoxTurtle says:

        How about he just emails that to you? I’m out of brain bleach.

        Boxturtle (A lawyer in a speedo. *shudder*)

      • klynn says:

        Oh man, THAT just made me poke my mind’s eye out.

        bmaz, for the sake of all humanity, DOooooon’t do it!

        I’m with BoxTurtle @ 42.

          • Leen says:

            Do you have a daughter? Would you want her prancing close to butt ass naked across the stage basically her value as a person being based on the way she looks
            I raised three intelligent and (they happen to be some of the lucky kids) to be physically beautiful daughters. I encouraged them to focus on their brain power not the power that they could use or have used against them because of the way that they look.

            I know folks who have taken hard hits in life because they do not size up in the physical world.

            I know kids who have suffered from bulimia and anorexia. Most young women who punish themselves in this way talk about how this focus on the physical form is incredibly destructive to their self esteem.

            Check out these sites
            “Beauty is still the currency out there”

            “”Women are judged by their physical attributes and little girls easily pick this up,” Summers said. “When some children win a pageant at that age, they could be thinking they are pretty and better than others.

            It also sets them up for some problems, including bulimia, anorexia and depression, if they cannot adjust as teens, she said. “Some babies grow up to be pretty adults and others grow up to be average looking. We all can’t be beautiful.”

            SICK SICK SICK


      • BoxTurtle says:

        Not sure why the contest does not just take the next step and have these women walking across the state butt ass naked?

        The Donald is in charge now. They’ve already done underware glam shots of all the contestants this year and I’m sure his plan don’t end with that.

        Given him 5 years, he’ll have them nude except for the high heels. Give him 7 years, and he’ll eliminate the talent portion and replace it with pole dancing.

        Boxturtle (I expect next years glam shots to look like lesbian porn)

    • emptywheel says:

      I looked, but couldn’t find anything open source or even publishable in short term. You gotta look though–IMO she’s a lot more beautiful than the boring blondes that she beat.

      • Leen says:

        Yeah a real change in the objectification of women. Brunette to blonde. You have come a long way baby

  15. skdadl says:

    I doubt it’s online, but if you ever want to laugh yourself silly, find a copy of Terry Southern’s article “Twirling at Ole Miss” (Esquire 1962). Tom Wolfe has said that Southern invented the New Journalism with that article.

  16. klynn says:

    Here’s an OT distraction that is both entertaining and thoughtful.

    And here’s a prize quote to draw your attention:

    From where I sit, the entire Republican Party should head to OZ – looking for a brain, a heart and a pair of t_____

    Go read to fill in the blank.

    • Leen says:

      “How many wars do we have to start before we realize that, in war, there are no winners except Dick Cheney and Halliburton?

      How long before Tea Party members stop misspelling signs and just start burning crosses?”


      • bobschacht says:

        Naw, it’s boobies first, face second, and ass third.

        I met my wife on the Internet– and the first thing that got my attention was marveling that someone my age could look that good. What I got was someone my age who is obsessed with looking good. Fortunately, the rest of the package was there, too, but in almost every aspect of life, she is concerned first with how does it look?

        In most areas of life, I am concerned first with “does it work?” (i.e., function), but in personal relationships I, like so many others, have been brainwashed to value “how does she look?” over all other first impressions, and I’m still trying to get over that.

        Bob in AZ

        • Leen says:

          For decades Hollywood has sold the package, homely dweed dude (not saying that is the case with you and your wife) can get the hot mama. Have always been amazed when I have overheard a pack of young men (often not so good looking kids) asking “is she pretty” “is she hot”

          This package, this focus has been sold to men and women for decades

          Ugly dudes can get the hot chicks if they have the ccchhing. Miss USA/America a way for these women to display their good to the highest bidders

        • Leen says:

          was she concerned with how big your package was? or how big your bank account was?

          If you put this shit out you have got to be able to take it

          • bobschacht says:

            was she concerned with how big your package was? or how big your bank account was?

            Fortunately, no, and no.

            If you put this shit out you have got to be able to take it

            Yep. But I lucked out. She’s a jewel in more ways than one, inside as well as outside.

            Bob in AZ

            • Leen says:

              That is lovely. But the reality is when men or anyone are going for the physical beauty or youth. You can bet the woman is going for your personal package or your wallet. Period.

              Hollywood has sold this package for decades.

              These pageants that young women (young girls these days) are being groomed for demonstrates another sickness in this culture

              • bmaz says:

                You have made your position clear; take your rantings somewhere else if you demand to persist. Other people’s daughters are their concern; most certainly not yours. Please give this a rest.

                • Leen says:

                  Have made my point. But my question for you Bmaz are you unable to see the connection of the objectification of women through advertising, these pageants, and now we see young girls being turned into live Barbie dolls at the age of 4 and 5. Are you unable to see how destructive this is on the self esteem of young women? And how these beauty contest only exacerbate those problems?

                • Leen says:

                  I have written Ew to find out if I have to obey your orders Bmaz? Funny how you call my concerns about this serious topic “rantings” and make not so subtle threats. (this happened during your Polanski thread) But when you express concerns and back them up with links, information etc those somehow are not “rantings”

                  • bmaz says:

                    It is non-productive to relentlessly berate people about their daughters. My daughter, nor anybody else’s, is your concern in the least. You made your point quite clearly; continuing to keep at it accomplishes nothing. And, no, “how horrible beauty pageants are” was most certainly not the topic of the post. But, hey, knock yourself out.

                    • Leen says:

                      I asked you earlier and then once again. And I was not “berating” you or anyone else.

                      And I am not just focusing on “beauty pageants” The issue of whether this is a good sign for Arab American women or ANY WOMEN in general is the deeper question that I am looking at and pointing to.

                      And you were clearly throwing out a not so subtle threat. But I am doing a post over at Seminal based on what I have laid out on this thread.

  17. Leen says:

    I think Sarah Palin is one of the best recent examples of how a womans looks can play to someone’s advantage in a very negative way for women and potentially our whole country and the world. Can you imagine the stupid shit that comes out of her mouth coming out of what we would culturally consider an ugly woman?

    The hook would come out and she would be drug from the national stage?

    I keep thinking SNL will have a skit like that (instead of the attractive Tina Fey playing Sarah so well). A not so good looking gal saying the things that Sarah says. Gonged off the stage

    the Gong show. Gong Sarah

  18. Twain says:

    I don’t like beauty pageants but Ms. Fakih is simply gorgeous and the wingnuts will go crazy. I love it.

  19. Cynthia says:

    Maybe my cynicism has gotten the better of me, but I view this news about a Muslim American being crowned Miss USA not as evidence that Muslims are gaining power here in the US, but as more evidence that Muslims are being exploited by the powers-than-be within America’s Judeo-Christian community. I won’t be convinced that Muslim Americans are on equal footing with Judeo-Christian Americans until a Muslim American is elected to the highest office of the land or a Judeo-Christian American president has the guts the defy the powers-than-be within our Judeo-Christian community by appointing a Muslim American to highest court in the land!

  20. doremus35 says:

    As American as……blah, blah, blah. She’s got that right: all appearance and no substance. How very American. There is more substance and value and magic in a teacher teaching the multiplcation table to one child than all of the beauty contests that ever have been or will ever be. The Romans had circuses and we have beauty contests: they both keep the mob occupied while civilization burns. Have a nice day.

  21. Jo Fish says:

    Oh, my. Poor Debbie is getting quite battered in the comments on her blog. I guess there are a few decent people who read her blog and can tell shit from shinola.

  22. doremus35 says:

    Was it Plato or St. Paul who said, and I must paraphrase, ‘No matter how beautiful a woman is, somebody, somewhere is tired of her shit.’ I’d drink to that.

  23. bayofarizona says:

    What annoys me is their stupid rules about behavior. Tara Conner got drunk and partied and had to apologize to the Donald. If you have done anything risque in the past that is “inappropriate.” They cannot be married or have kids.They should pose for men, but they are not allowed to have any fun for themselves.

    Anyone saying it is just about boobies is full of shit.There is no reason for it to exist – and I love how the people here (men, natch) are defending it, but people who want to see nekkid chicks have the internet and Maxim and I doubt they are watching the pageant anyway.

    The lingerie shots are new this year b/c ratings are collapsing. Who are the demographics? I remember during the Carrie Prejean thing people said there is a large gay audience. I have not seen any verification, though.

  24. Leen says:

    here we go folks. What parent would not be proud to have their beautiful daughter parading across a stage close to butt ass naked, high high heels on along with a history of pole dancing.

    Bmaz do you have any daughters?

    Women have come a long way. Contest based on tits, ass, face and men imagining having the winners with a lip lock around their waldos. We have come such a long long way gals

    Miss USA stripping scandal: How shocking!

      • Leen says:


        do you have daughters? Do you have any idea about the pressure that young women feel about this horseshit. Go talk to young women who have dealt with anorexia or bulimia. Or just keep your focus on the boobs and pole dancing

  25. punaise says:

    I have a teenage daughter and can appreciate the gist of leen’s observations / concerns.

Comments are closed.