Last updated: December 15. 2013 8:06PM - 1199 Views
By - gbudzak@civitasmedia.com - 740-413-0904

Nina Davuluri after winning the Miss America crown. (Submitted)
Nina Davuluri after winning the Miss America crown. (Submitted)
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You wouldn’t think anyone would bully a Miss America, but it’s happened to the current one.

Nina Davuluri, the first Indian-American to be chosen as Miss America, told of her experiences to students and parents Dec. 13 at the Olentangy High School auditorium.

For the talent portion of the pageant, Davuluri decided to perform an Indian dance. At one point, she was told, “Bollywood will never win.” However, Davuluri said, “I would not change who I was.” The next time, she did win Miss New York and then Miss America, still doing the Indian dance.

After winning the crown, Davuluri said she has experienced bullying via social media. For example, some people have called her a terrorist and not an American, even though she was born in New York. And some in India have said she would be considered too dark-complected to win a beauty pageant there.

I still receive remarks on Twitter. It’s all hurtful and unacceptable, but you have to rise above it,” Davuluri said. “India is part of my heritage, but I’m also an American.”

Her service platform is celebrating diversity and combating bullying, including a 20-city tour to schools like Olentangy.

Know who you are, love who you are, stand up for who you are,” Davuluri said in response to a student asking for advice.

This is a very big deal,” said Wade Lucas, Olentangy Local Schools Superintendent. “Many districts in central Ohio would love to have Miss America visit.”

The anti-bullying forum also featured 17-year-old Cali Linstrom, who was bullied when she was a sophomore in Illinois.

I had to leave high school for a little while,” Linstrom said. “I was feeling worthless. My self-esteem was really low. I had to get some help, and returned my junior year.”

Now a senior, she speaks out against bullying.

Social media has become a weapon,” Linstrom said. “You can’t turn it off. Bring it up to a counselor, have a dialogue with your parents. Just by looking at someone, you don’t know what they’ve been through.”

An estimated one in three students are bullied. The main reasons for being bullied are: appearance, disability, race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.

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