Are Asian contestants in recent editions of the Miss Universe competition chosen based on their exotic Pan-Asian looks? The question was posed by a writer of a magazine based in the United States.
Using newly-crowned Miss Universe Malaysia Kimberly Leggett as the focus, an article in the International Business Times, titled 'The Politics of Beauty: Is Malaysia's Miss Universe Contestant Too White?', seemed to suggest that the country leaned towards fairer-skinned women to represent it in the competition.
The article has since come under criticism from Malaysians for questioning the ethnicity of the 19-year-old undergraduate at a Malaysian university.
Leggett was born in Penang to Caucasian-Eurasian parentage and said that she speaks Malay and understands the Hokkien and Cantonese dialects. She also said that she 'loved durians' and that she is 'exactly like everyone else in the country'.
The article also prompted a staunch defence of Leggett from fellow Miss Universe Malaysia 2012 contestant Sugeeta Chandran, who describes her as a 'friendly local girl who often uses 'lah' in conversations, and even speaks in Bahasa Malaysia'.
Andrea Fonseka -- the national director of the Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation and herself a former Miss Universe Malaysia -- lashed out at the article as well, labelling it unfair to Malaysians as 'we are so culturally diverse that we cannot pin down what a Malaysian look was.'