Blasian Makes Top 10 of Miss Universe

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Ariana Mamiko Miyamoto (宮本・エリアナ・磨美子) was born in Nagasaki to a Japanese mother and an African American father (Bryant Stanfield). Her father met her mother while stationed in Sasebo with the United States Navy. Her parents married but divorced when Ariana was an infant.

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Ariana as a child with her mom

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Ariana as a teen with her dad and half-sibling

n 2015, Ariana won Miss Nagasaki and went on to represent her prefecture in the Miss Universe Japan pageant. She was crowned Miss Universe Japan 2015 in March. She is the 1st hāfu to win the pageant. Upon her selection, she faced criticism for not appearing to be Japanese. There were comments that her face was too “gaijin”, literally “outside person”. Ariana is a Japanese citizen, born and raised in Japan and fluent in the Japanese language. She identified as Japanese and even holds a 5th degree mastery of Japanese calligraphy. Ariana wants to represent the new face of Japan. “International marriages are happening. There will be [more] biracial children. I want them to be as accepted in Japan as they would be in the U.S. I want society to get used to that idea.”

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Miss Nagasaki 2015

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Miss Japan 2015

When Ariana was 13, she moved to Arkansas with her father to attend two years of high school in the United States. As a child in Japan, she was often called “kurombo”, the Japanese equivalent to the N-word. She says she felt normal for the first time in Arkansas, although she was still treated as a foreigner. In the US, she came to speak of , while in Japan, she still calls herself hāfu (biracial in Japanese). As Miss Japan, she presents herself as an ethnically mixed Japanese person.

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Ariana went on to compete in Miss Universe 2015 in December, where she made it to the Top 10. Having represented Japan globally, reigning as the 1st half black Miss Japan, she serves as a role model for multiracial Japanese people and challenges the idea what it means to be Japanese.
Selected Sources:
* CBS News, Beauty queen brings light to Japan’s racial issues“, April 13, 2015.
* New York Times, “Biracial Beauty Queen Challenges Japan’s Self-Image,” May 29, 2015.
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Blasian Finalist for Miss Universe Singapore

Miss Universe Singapore is an annual contest held in Singapore to select the country’s representative to the Miss Universe pageant.  The 12 finalists of Miss Universe Singapore 2014 were unveiled on August 2.  The pageant was held on August 22 and was broadcast on cable channel, Fashion TV.

This year’s contest included Ijechi Nazirah Nwaozuzu, a Singaporean of African and Malaysian heritage.  Born to a Nigerian father and a Malay mother, the 21-year-old is currently studying law at the National University of Singapore.  Raised in Bukit Panjang, she also claims Chinese, Indian, and Portuguese heritage.

Regarding her unique circumstances, she states, “My sister and I were raised to be Singaporean in identity and values, but global in our outlook and perspective.”  One of the more challenging issues for her as a child was being identified as “Other” in the school register.  She felt it was harder to fit in, as she did not belong to any of the major racial groups.  While Singapore is multicultural, ethnic Asians predominate.  Seventy-five percent of the population is Chinese, with significant minorities of Malays, Indians, and Eurasians.  “Part of why I joined this competition is to show the world that we’re cosmopolitan.  We always talk about Singapore being multiracial, but I don’t think we show enough of that on the international stage,” said Ijechi.

Ijechi competed well, finishing second runner-up and also selected for the Best Legs award.  Now, she can refocus on her studies.  She is interested in international law, human rights, women’s rights, and family law.  As she says, “the most important thing now is to survive law school and graduate.”

BONUS:  Cecelia Chng – makeup stylist to blasians Kimora Lee Simmons and Naomi Campbell – served as the makeup artist for Miss Universe Singapore 2014!

Selected Sources:
* Yahoo Entertainment, “Exotic mix of Miss Universe Singapore 2014 finalists unveiled“, August 3, 2014.