Last night Miss District of Columbia, Kára McCullough won the 2017 edition of Miss USA contest. McCullough, who holds a degree in chemistry and works as a scientist at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, won the top prize over the runner-up Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg, and the third-place finisher, Miss Minnesota, Meridith Gould.

Miss District of Columbia took the Miss USA pageant crown for the second year in a row, but the newly crowned 25-year-old scientist is causing a stir and criticism on social media due to her responses on health care and feminism.

McCullough was asked during the pageant if affordable health care is a right for all Americans, she replied to host Julianne Hough, “I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege.” Stating that affordable healthcare was a privilege for people who held jobs.

“As a government employee, I am granted health care and I see firsthand that to have health care, you need to have jobs. We need to continue to cultivate this environment that we’re given the opportunity to have health care as well as jobs.”

On Feminism:
McCullough doesn’t consider herself a feminist and said that she prefers the term “equalism” to “feminism.”

“I try not to consider myself, like, this diehard, ‘I don’t really care about men’” type of woman. Women — we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace.”

McCullough also spoke with Refinery29 about her decision to rock her natural hair for the 2017 Miss USA pageant.


On Natural Hair:
“When I choose to wear my hair curly, I was afraid. I didn’t know if people were going to accept it…if anyone was going to be receptive to it at all.” I decided to embrace what makes me feel comfortable and what makes me feel the best and brightest on stage, but also embrace what other people can relate to. That typical, traditional sleek hair with a big tease, not to say it’s gone out the window, but it’s transitioning a lot.” When I didn’t see anyone in competitions with my hairstyle, I decided wanted to be the mold.”

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