We were overjoyed when Army Reserve Officer Deshauna Barber was crowned Miss USA this summer, but of course not everyone was as thrilled because, as The Huffington Post pointed out, racism. And while we’ve come to learn how to drown out the time honored tradition of bigotry in this country, what we can’t accept is how that behavior made Barber feel after her win.
“I just knew that everyone would just be ‘whoo whoo’ and [saying] ‘we love Deshauna she represents this country.’ And I have been positively received but there’s been a lot of negative [comments].” Barber told HuffPo in a very honest interview last week. “I was called tar monkey [and] the n-word. I had a lot of moments where people thought I was better off being Miss Africa USA versus Miss USA. And to me, it was very discouraging.”
So much so, that the negative attention began to weigh on Barber’s self-esteem.
“I had to really reevaluate how I feel emotionally about myself and the confidence that I have because there were moments where I was like ‘Man, am I really that ugly? Do people really think that I don’t deserve to represent this crown?’” Barber admitted. “Then I realized there’s a lot of little black and brown girls that look up to me saying, ‘She looks like me.’
“I really had to understand that, ‘You know what, I’m an American woman. I can be Miss USA and just because my skin is black does not mean that I’m ugly,’” she went on to say. “I am so happy that I was able to really build my confidence and understand, ‘you know what Deshauna, you’re a queen. You have to stand up you have to really represent that.’”
We’re happy Barber was able to come to that place too. Isn’t it funny how Americans are all about supporting our troops until they don’t look the way we want them to look?
During the Miss USA pageant this past June, Barber was actually asked about how beauty standards affect her confidence and she stated being in the military has actually helped build the kind of self-assurance she now has had to rely on to block out racist hatred.
“To me confidently beautiful means understanding its not always about your appearance,” she said. “It’s not always about who you are around and how they feel you look, where they feel you come from or your economic background. Serving in the military has taught me that being confidently beautiful is about being able to earn respect from people regardless of what you look like. As a woman in the military, people associate beauty with weakness and they learn very quickly that I’m extremely strong, and though I’m small, I’m powerful. Confidently beautiful is being myself and being very happy with who I’ve become.”
Check out Barber’s full HuffPo interview below.