Pageant Crowns The Wrong "Indian Girl"

Over a week ago, New Zealand pageant contestant Synthia Nath's Instagram shows her happily posing with her crown and sash with the caption "Smiles for the camera. Happy weekend." However, the fortunate series of events quickly turned unfortunate for the 19-year-old. According to New York Daily News, Nath was asked to return to her sash and crown because she was confused with "another Indian girl" who was supposed to win. Um.

The weird mixup occurred after Nath had called the pageant to see what she had won. Instead, she was asked to pay the $3,000 entry fee for another competition in Turkey. According to Nath, when the organizers found out she couldn't pay, they asked her to return the crown and sash saying, "Good, you don't have the money. Give the crown and sash back, I have other girls lined up." The second time Nath followed up, the beauty pageant representative said that they had mixed up the names and the prize was meant for another Indian girl.

Organizers of the pageant defended their statement saying it was a mistake anyone could have made, because the girls "look alike." I mean, okay. There aren't any photos of the "real" winner around at the moment, so sure. It's entirely possible that they have similar hairstyles or something. But still, their names aren't even close to the same — the young woman they meant to crown is Loriza Latif — so it seems like they could have double-checked that before they send Nath her crown and sash. Also do the rules of No Take Backs not apply here?

The whole situation seems messy and suspect: the definition of prize does not mean the winner is obligated to fork over money — the beauty pageant itself seems a bit like a fraud.

Yet, more importantly, the fact that Nath was written off as "another Indian girl" reveals a massive undercurrent of racism within these beauty pageants. It goes without saying that a person is not "just another" part of their race, religion, or sex — a person is an individual and should be treated as one.

It is no secret that contestants go through painstaking sacrifices for these beauty competitions — one thing they, or anyone, should not have to sacrifice is their individuality.

Image: Synthia Nath/Instagram