Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program



Whaley, Rachel Bridges


Beauty pageants were created to celebrate a woman’s beauty. However, beauty pageants then and now seem to celebrate Eurocentric beauty standards, and this is apparent in the lack of racial and cultural representation and diversity in premier pageants like Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Universe. Using in-depth interviews, the author examines how Asian American women who compete in pageants navigate their racial and cultural identities and how they define beauty standards in a white dominated space. This study identities two significant themes: 1) the Asian women control the narrative around their racial and cultural identities in a space where there is a lack of Asian representation, and 2) beauty standards rooted in Eurocentric beauty has impacted the way Asian women define beauty. This study explores how race, ethnicity, culture, and gender impact the individual experiences of Asian American beauty queens.