At a time when pageants seem anachronistic and when Chinese-American women have other avenues to fame and success, it is difficult to understand why the Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Pageant continues to draw so many contestants. I decided to follow one young woman through the pageant—hoping to better grasp why women, so similar to me in age and background, decide to put themselves on public display. In following Katie Au, those motivations came to light in a startling manner. Her experiences reveal a host of pressures that young Asian-American women face today—from their parents, the Chinese community, their peers, and an image-driven mainstream media. Her participation in the pageant also poignantly reveals one individual’s struggle to find a community of her own and to achieve a level of self-acceptance.
– Kathy Huang