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Multi-racial candidates especially felt the pressure physically to appear Japanese American enough to represent their community. There was a general assumption that those of one hundred percent Japanese ancestry would have ethnic and cultural knowledge; however, this was not always the case. Often, those of mixed ancestry spoke Japanese, ate Japanese food, attended Japanese culture school, and practiced Japanese arts, but their non-Japanese physical features led observers to assume that they were less Japanese American than one hundred percent Japanese ancestry contestants.

Mixed-race candidates felt compelled to authenticate their claims to Japanese American-ness by using Japanese names, speaking the Japanese language, and altering their physical appearance to seem more Japanese.


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Others highlighted their Japanese heritage through the speech and talent competitions. The fact that mixed-race candidates felt such compulsions shows how race and ethnicity are still tightly linked. Yet, the gradual Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

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Biracial Miss Universe Japan brings racial issues to spotlight

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Institutional Login. In partnership with. All rights reserved. As featured on. Hawaii Luxury Magazine. Each city boasts a sizable Japanese-American population, and each stages an annual beauty contest for a local Cherry Blossom queen.

Panel discussion: Asian American Beauty Pageants – UC Berkeley Library Update

But Hawaii's is the most varied and interesting. Rebecca Chiyoko King-O'Riain, a sociologist at the National University of Ireland, is especially interested in what these beauty pageants tell us about our changing attitudes toward ethnicity. Mixed-race beauty queens in particular challenge traditional notions of who is Japanese and who is not. They also call into question any knee-jerk answers.

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Is a Japanese-looking hapa who lacks in-depth knowledge of Japanese culture more Japanese than a Caucasian-appearing girl who speaks the language, knows her ancestors and lives the culture? In the s and s, feminist critiques of beauty pageants led to significant changes in the contests as orga- nizers responded to complaints from feminist organizations and contestants who protested the objectification of women.


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In response, Japanese American pageants in places like San Francisco deemphasized beauty-judging criteria by eliminating bathing suit contests and body measurements. Instead, the focus shifted to the community and professional service of the candidates. Beginning Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth v.

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The presence of an increasing number of mixed-race contestants created a crisis in racial think- ing that revealed the continued existence of racial hierarchies in the Japanese American community and the dominance of the biological concept of race. Die- hard purists rejected interracial marriages and preferred to restrict member- ship in community organizations to one hundred percent Japanese Americans.

Even as some community leaders have made efforts in recent years to reach out to mixed-race Japanese Americans and include them in community organizations, the blood quantum rules in the pageant clearly demonstrate that race, as biology, is linked to ethnic- ity and gender. Mixed-race contestants in the pageant felt discrimination from both within the Japanese American community as well as without and felt the need to emphasize their Japanese American-ness through the pageant.

Multi-racial candidates especial- ly felt the pressure physically to appear Japanese American enough to represent their community. There was a general assumption that those of one hundred percent Japanese ancestry would have ethnic and cultural knowledge; however, this was not always the case.

snapaglacher.ga Often, those of mixed ancestry spoke Japanese, ate Japanese food, attended Japanese culture school, and practiced Japanese arts, but their non-Japanese physical features led observers to assume that they were less Japanese American than one hundred percent Japanese ancestry contestants. Mixed-race candidates felt compelled to authenticate their claims to Japanese American-ness by using Japanese names, speaking the Japanese language, and altering their physical appearance to seem more Japanese.

Others highlighted their Japanese heritage through the speech and talent competitions.

The fact that mixed-race candidates felt such compulsions shows how race and ethnicity are still tightly linked. Yet, the gradual acceptance of mixed-race con- testants and queens reveals shifting definitions of Japanese American identity within the community even as that identity remains strongly racialized.