Nina Davuluri's new documenary, COMPLEXion, explores stories of diversity and acceptance

By Kaitlyn Frey
October 30, 2019 03:18 PM

Miss America Nina Davuluri is ready to disrupt old-fashioned beauty standards.

Davuluri, who was crowned Miss America in 2014, produced a powerful new documentary, COMPLEXion, which dives into stories of colorism, self-love, acceptance and diversity. In an interview on PEOPLE Now, she explains how the idea came to her after facing beauty pressures herself.

“I remember the morning after I won Miss America I read a headline that said, ‘Is Miss America Too Dark to Be Miss India?’ This was something that I grew up with hearing the conversations of, ‘Oh you’d be so much more beautiful if you were lighter.’ Or, ‘Don’t go out in the sun, you will get too dark,'” Davuluri says.

She continues: “I was dating my college boyfriend at the time and he said, ‘Oh if my mother meets you, she’s probably going to think you’re too dark.’ This stereotype is something I grew up with.”

Once she became Miss America, Davuluri decided “enough is enough” and wanted to use her platform to change the societal standards through the documentary, which does more than touch on beauty.

“It’s not just about beauty standards. It also really translates to socioeconomic status for women in many developing countries across the world,” she adds.

In the interview, Davuluri describes one story presented in the documentary which focuses on Matteo, a white Italian man who says he “aways wanted to be black.”

“It really made me ask the question, depending on the environment you grew up in, you either embrace who you are or try to push against that,” Davuluri says. “So is there a balance we can find? Globally, what does that conversation look like?”

Davuluri first gained international recognition and made history by becoming the first Indian American and South Asian to become Miss America 2014. Since then, she’s advocated for social change of beauty standards with the launch of #CirclesOfUnity, to encourage constructive and civil dialogue on diversity issues.

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