Miss Belgium Angeline Flor Pua has admitted she was hurt by racist criticism after beating 29 other contestants for the coveted crown.
Pua, 22, who has a Chinese-Filipino father and a Filipina mother, was born in Antwerp, Belgium’s second-biggest city, but was immediately branded an Asian by some social media users.
“I call this Miss Philippines, not Miss Belgium,” one Twitter post said. “Hopefully, it’s not a ladyboy.” Others said the title should have gone to someone with more “European” features.
The trainee pilot said in an interview with BBC News that she had never experienced racism growing up in Belgium. “I’ve always been accepted by the people at work, at school, everywhere,” she said.
“I’ve heard about negative comments. Of course it hurts a lot to read those things about myself because I know those things are not true.”
Pua said she was prepared to prove her nationality if necessary. “I can show my ID, my birth certificate to prove that I am a Belgian.”
She advised victims of racism not to feel sorry for themselves, adding they should be proud of who they are and where they come from.
“You are still a human being with a good heart. Just remember that.”