WASHINGTON: Shortly before she was crowned the first Miss America of Indian descent, Nina Davuluri was asked about a Chinese American celebrity who admitted undergoing surgery to reshape her eyes.

In the interview before a national audience Sunday, 24-year-old Davuluri tactfully avoided criticizing television personality Julie Chen but made clear that she would do nothing similar.

“I’ve always viewed Miss America as the girl next door. And the girl next door is evolving as the diversity in America evolves,” said Davuluri, who was born in Syracuse, New York, to parents from the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

“I wouldn’t want to change someone’s looks or appearance, but definitely be confident in who you are,” she said.

Davuluri fully embraced her heritage at the competition, donning a ruby-hued choli that bared her midriff as she performed an Indian dance.

But her victory triggered a spate racist postings on social media, with some Twitter users questioning if she was American and even falsely associating her with Islamic extremism. “The first Indian American winner is significant in that it further widens our conception of female beauty and what it means to be an American,” said Blain Roberts, a historian at California State University at Fresno.–AFP