Torika Watters, 16, has been disqualified from the forthcoming Miss World pageant, despite being assured that she was old enough to compete. The controversy first began when Watters was crowned Miss Fiji, winning the opportunity to represent her country at the world competition in China, in August.
Soon after her win - which was partially judges by supermodel Rachel Hunter - critics began questioning whether the mixed-race Watters represented Fijian beauty, or whether she was simply a mirror of Western ideals, reports ABC News. Two weeks after her win, Watters revealed to her Facebook friends that pageant director Andhy Blake told her she couldn't compete in the world competition because of her age, though claimed he had previously assured her "it was fine" because she had received a waiver by international organizers. A message on the Miss World Fiji Facebook page on Tuesday (May 15, 2012) said that Watters had voluntarily stepped down and that reports connecting the decision with racism or her age were "untrue". It added, "Despite all the negative hype surrounding our event, we continue to defend against all allegations and accusations".
Watters is the latest beauty queen to attract controversy in recent months. Back in March, transgender beauty queen Jenna Talackoba was kicked out of the Miss Universe Canada competition after organizers discovered she was born a man. She was subsequently reinstated into the competition following a public outcry.