2016 Miss USA Competition - Show

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Deshauna Barber is opening up about the ugly side of being Miss USA.

When Deshauna became Miss USA in 2016, it was a quintessentially American moment. The soldier who hailed from Washington, D.C., was a vision in her golden gown topped by a glittering crown and an even brighter smile.

Unfortunately, some people couldn’t handle her well-earned victory. Angry viewers immediately flooded the pageant’s social media to spew hate about her win, attempting to diminish her moment.

“After winning the title, I had people say I was using the military card for my win, along with other hateful things,” she shared in a piece she wrote for Refinery29.com.

Within a day, the pageant’s social media had completely scrubbed its various comments sections of most (if not all) of the negativity.

However, Deshauna revealed that she was still stunned by the amount of racism she faced during her reign.

“While competing for Miss Universe, I had to deal with colorism internationally” she wrote, explaining that some of her competitors believed they had an edge over her just based on her complexion. “A lot of people in different countries considered me ugly because my skin is darker. The darker you are, the poorer you are — or whatever the case may be.”

That mentality extended to disgruntled pageant fans who were far more hateful in their criticisms. It tainted what should have been one of the most incredible experiences of Deshauna’s life.

“Competing in Miss Universe and dealing with the fans of competitors in other countries got tough. I had no idea how much racism I would experience from an international standpoint,” she explained. “They’d send me monkey emojis, and say that my skin looked like a poop emoji and tag me in photos with apes.”

No matter how much it got to Deshauna, though, she always put her best face forward and kept the pain to herself. “I didn’t speak about it, because I didn’t want to deter anyone from competing,” the former Miss USA admitted. “You want to make it seem like everything is happy and hunky-dory, but there are a lot of very challenging moments.

But despite what some people in the world were saying about her, Deshauna didn’t let their opinions to tear down her sense of self-worth and continued to hold her crown high.

“I could have let the words of these people really get to me. When you’re doing something that people aren’t used to, some people just won’t like you,” Deshauna explained. “I can’t change who I am to make someone else comfortable.

She concluded, “If they’re ignorant, then they’re ignorant. There’s nothing I can do to fix that.”

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