The 2023 Miss Universe Pageant is scheduled for November 18th in El Salvador.
Unsurprisingly, Melissa Flores, this year’s Miss Mexico, is a Euro-Mexican [Meet Melissa Flores, The Contestant From Mexico Who Will Participate In Miss Universe 2023, by Monica Tirado and Shirley Gomez, Hola!, September 7, 2023].
After all, in Mexico and Latin America in general, European standards of beauty are still dominant. So it’s not surprising.
The choice of the young woman for Miss Dominican Republic, on the other hand, has been controversial.
Mariana Downing has an English surname. That in itself isn’t a disqualifier in Latin America. After all, Lupita Jones was Miss Mexico in 1990 and Miss Universe in 1991. For years she’s been the director of the Miss Universe organization in Mexico.
Mariana Downing, daughter of a British father and Dominican mother, was born in Miami and raised in the United States. And she’s much more comfortable with English than with Spanish.
Mariana Downing, previously in a relationship with Marc Anthony, has recently been crowned Miss Dominican Republic. She is preparing to participate in the upcoming Miss Universe competition on November 18th in El Salvador.
However, her victory has faced criticism due to her being raised in the United States and having English as her dominant language rather than Spanish, the official language of the country she will be representing.
Miss Dominican Republic 🤍— Maikel Alvarez (@maikarriet) September 5, 2023
Mariana Downing 🇩🇴 pic.twitter.com/zmdqcZBtH3
You can see their point. Apparently, people in the Dominican Republic are still concerned about national identity. Good for them.
Of course, Miss Downing has a response.
When asked about this on the “Al Rojo Vivo” program (Telemundo), Mariana defended her actions in the competition. “The language I dominate is English, and when I express myself, I want to do it intelligently, I want to express myself with things I understand,” she explained.
OK, but are beauty queens really chosen for their verbal expression?
Miss Downing’s case demonstrates the contemporary strategy we’ve already seen in international athletics, that of country-shopping.
Furthermore, she pointed out that she could have represented other countries in the competition but chose to represent her mother’s homeland. “I could have also represented the United Kingdom or the United States, but I wanted to be here, representing the Dominican Republic,” she added.
Mariana Downing is a citizen of three countries.
She could have competed for the United States, the United Kingdom or the Dominican Republic.
A cynic might say she chose the Dominican Republic because she’d have a better chance at winning.
In the interview, Mariana brings in her feelings and immigration.
“I am Dominican by blood; my mom is from Cotui, and I feel it in my roots,” she affirmed, stating that “the children of Dominican migrants who left in search of a better quality of life also have the right to represent our country.”