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Is this woman a good role model?

WHYS Team WHYS Team | 19:39 UK time, Wednesday, 19 May 2010

missusa.JPG

This is Rima Fakih, she's the first American Muslim Woman to be crowned Miss USA. Rima is a 24-year-old from Michigan of Lebanese origin. Unsurprisingly the blogs haven't been slow to comment on her victory. Tunku Varadarajan from the Daily Beast celebrates her triumph. He says Rima's win will advance cultural diplomacy:

"This example, this integration by bikini, could go a long way toward demonstrating to Americans that Muslims are not a weirdly, frighteningly monolithic group, and thus begin to break down prejudice."

So is Rima a good role model?

This blogger says Rima's example is positive because

"she goes against everything Muslims want women to be -- and with all the ways that Islam oppresses women, free will, free women, free people. what could be wrong with that? Hopefully every young Muslim girl will now tell her parents "I want to grow up and be like Rima." "

But is a beauty pageant the right way to find common ground between muslims and non-muslims? Blogger Sana Saeed wonders what all the fuss is about:

"We are, in effect, applauding a sexist, chauvinist, exploitatively capitalistic and nationalist venture for accepting someone "like us." Thank you for exploiting our women, as well!"

She points to Daliah Mogahed's appointment as advisor to President Obama as a much more inspiring example of Muslim integration.

To add to the controversy photos have emerged of Rima pole-dancing in a radio show contest in 2007 but this blogger doesn't see the problem:

"She's a girl and she wants to have fun... A role model is someone who enjoys life, knows right from wrong and acts upon this knowledge... While Fakih might have these characteristics, no one should be looking up to a Miss USA for them. It's just a title."

So should anyone look up to Rima? Does her win help break down negative muslim stereotypes? Is she being exploited and reinforcing gender stereotypes? Or is she just being American and embracing beauty pageants?

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