World / Reporter's Journal

Chinese-American Miss Michigan unfairly criticized by netizens

By Chang Jun (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-08-02 23:27

News that Arianna Quan, who was crowned Miss Michigan on June 18 and will take part in the upcoming Miss America contest in September, went viral in China for weeks, mostly in a negative way.

The only Chinese-American woman who will compete in the annual national pageant in September in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Quan, in two days of rigorous competition, interviews and talent portions, impressed judges and the audience that she was the most outstanding and well-rounded among the 33 contestants for the statewide title, as well as the $12,000 in scholarship money.

It's unusual for a Chinese American to receive recognition of this kind in the US, and we should celebrate diversity, right?

Chinese netizens, however, focused on Quan's appearance. They were mocking her looks and criticizing her demeanor at the moment she was crowned, and also calling her ugly.

Women should not be judged by their looks or curves. In the context of cultural differences between China and the United States, it's important for us to know the true meaning of beautiful, and how to appreciate beauty.

"She is ugly and she can't represent us Chinese, let alone endorse the Chinese-style beauty," wrote one person.

"She is only 23? Why does she look like she's 43, given her rustic make-up, hairdo and costumes?" another said.

Leaving aside the insults like these on social platforms in China, we need to take a close look at differences between Chinese and Americans regarding their attitudes to Quan.

Born in Beijing, Quan moved to metro Detroit at age 6 and became a naturalized American citizen at 14. Growing up, she was often the only Asian American in many of her classes and left out by her Caucasian peers.

"All throughout my life it's been something that's been a little bit uncomfortable for me to talk about," saying she has been self-conscious about it.

"I think it's innate in every teenager's upbringing that whatever makes you different is something that you should be ashamed about," she continued. "We all want to fit in, we all want to be embraced, and for me, because I am very tall, because I was the only Asian-American in most of my classes, I just felt out of place."

Quan didn't quit, though. She loves archery, speaks Mandarin, plays classical piano, volunteers and has been the only female in her transportation design class for two years at Detroit's College for Creative Studies. Her goal is to become a lead designer at an automotive company, in a male-dominated industry.

Quan will advocate for "Being American: Immigration and Citizenship Education", to raise awareness of the importance of embracing diversity.

"During this election year, I realized how important it was for immigrants and naturalized citizens especially to speak out about their experiences in this country," Quan said. "We are so diverse, and it's so important for all of us to embrace that. That's why my platform is what it is, and hopefully going to Miss America in this election year I can raise awareness about what it means to be an American."

Also an ambassador for Rock the Vote, Quan wants to encourage young people to register to vote. Throughout June (Immigrant Heritage Month) and July (National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month), the young woman spoke about issues that have affected her directly.

Beyond her looks and make-up, do we see Quan's achievements? She is beautiful, talented and, more importantly, she has a big heart.

Contact the writer at


Trudeau visits Sina Weibo
May gets little gasp as EU extends deadline for sufficient progress in Brexit talks
Ethiopian FM urges strengthened Ethiopia-China ties
Yemen's ex-president Saleh, relatives killed by Houthis
Most Popular
Hot Topics