Born and raised in Japan, 21-year-old Ariana Miyamoto is the daughter of a Japanese mother and African-American father. As she prepares to represent her country in the 2015 Miss Universe competition she finds herself embraced by many while others oppose her for not being Japanese enough.
Growing up as “haafu” (the Japanese pronunciation of the English word “half” referring to half-Japanese people) in the town of Sasebo, near Nagasaki, was challenging for Ariana.
Having been teased and bullied, she questioned whether or not she belonged. As a teenager, Ariana traveled to the U.S. to discover her roots.
“I felt very comfortable there and got to be with my family and meet other people like me,” she said. “It’s very easy to live there and I discovered a whole new me.”
Ariana plans to use the prominence of the Miss Universe Japan title to spread awareness of racial discrimination.