The Miss Universe Dominican Republic 2023 pageant recently took place – and there’s a lot of discourse around it thanks to the British-Dominican contestant, Mariana Downing. The buzz began when Downing, who has now claimed the coveted title of Miss Universe Dominican Republic 2023, chose to respond to a question in English during the competition.
The dramatic moment played out during the pivotal question-and-answer segment, a juncture where contestants’ eloquence is tested. Downing, confronted with a question posed in Spanish, deviated from convention by delivering her response in English.
Ganó la que tenía que ganar👑 @Mariana downing y sorry to sorry ( si no sabes inglés busque el traductor, fue la mejor respuesta) y muchos dirán que no es digna representación de una dominicana, pero aquí hay gente que ni el himno nacional se saben y son dominicanos 🤣 #missrepublicadominicana #missdominicanrepublic #missdominicanrepublic2023 #missuniverse
Journalist Alicia Ortega asked if the then-contestant preferred being beautiful, rich, or intelligent and Downing responded by saying, “Between being smart, beautiful, or rich, I would choose to be smart. Intelligence builds legacies, and inner beauty is crucial in an educated society. Intelligence takes us far, and wealth comes with intelligence. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘Knowledge is power.’”
For context, the rough Spanish translation is: “Entre ser inteligente, bella o rica yo sería inteligente. La inteligencia construye legados y la belleza interior es lo más importante en una sociedad regida por la educación. Necesitamos la inteligencia para llegar lejos. La riqueza viene con la inteligencia y ‘El conocimiento es poder’, como dijo Nelson Mandela.”
This unconventional choice not only surprised the audience but also ignited impassioned discussions both online and within the Dominican community.
Opinions on the matter were as diverse as the nation itself. Some argued that Downing should have demonstrated fluency in Spanish, emphasizing the significance of linguistic prowess, especially within the Dominican Republic, where Spanish reigns as the official language. Conversely, others contended that her decision to reply in English might have been motivated by her aspirations on the international stage, given that the Miss Universe competition often necessitates English proficiency.
Mariana Downing Sparks Debate on Language
Yet, even as this debate rages on, it is undeniable that Mariana Downing’s response has cast a spotlight on a discussion that transcends language alone. It delves into the complex interplay of language, identity, and the lofty aspirations of beauty pageant contestants.
This situation raises not only questions about language but also broader inquiries concerning cultural identity and representation in the realm of international competitions, such as Miss Universe, which she will now be able to compete in.
Still, the biggest question is: Should Downing have responded in Spanish?