On Saturday night, 18-year-old Texas born Karlie Hay was crowned Miss Teen USA.
Following her win, Jezebel pointed out that she’s posted numerous racist tweets in the past, which are problematic on their own.
But that’s not what caught the internet’s attention about the national pageant.
It was the fact that it’s nearly impossible to distinguish Karlie Hay from the other girls, who finished in the top five. All the finalists, who come from different states in the US, have blonde hair, blue eyes, and an almost identical skin tone. It’s… weird.
— Karlie Hay (@MissTeenUSA) July 31, 2016
It also says a lot about our frighteningly narrow view of beauty, and the lack of diversity in mainstream popular culture.
But the picture is just so ridiculous that for many social media users, there was no point delving into the complexities of why it’s so disturbing. Instead, the absurdity of the white-washed line up was expressed with a number of telling memes.
— benny • בית (@bendykoval) July 31, 2016
— Marie Clare (@cellabiao) July 31, 2016
Even Chrissy Teigen weighed in on the ridiculousness of the photo, sarcastically tweeting, “Wow how can we choose from such a diverse bunch?”
When her tweet attracted a great deal of attention, she responded: “It’s fiiiiiine. Not their fault. I’m sure they are delightful women. Just funny. I’m not gonna write a think-piece on a damn pageant.”
And that’s just it.
It’s not their fault. Five very, very white, very, very blonde and very, very Caucasian women finishing as finalists of the Miss Teen USA pageant isn’t the fault of one particular person or even one particular group of people. It’s a symptom of a society where we have only one idea of what people should look like.
And laughing at the ridiculousness of our narrow representation of the “ideal woman” is a particularly powerful way of challenging it.