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Miss USA, a Nebraska native, apologizes after she’s accused of mocking Miss Universe contestants’ English

December 15, 2018

Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers has apologized after being criticized for comments she made at the Miss Universe pageant about how some of her fellow contestants don’t speak English.

As the uproar heated up, the Nebraska contestant’s supporters, including her mother, said her comments were been misconstrued. The contestants are in Thailand preparing for the pageant Sunday.

Summers posted an apology to her Instagram, saying she realized how what she said could “be perceived as not respectful.”

View this post on Instagram @MissUniverse is an opportunity for women from around the world to learn about each other’s cultures, life experiences, and views. We all come from different backgrounds and can grow alongside one another. In a moment where I intended to admire the courage of a few of my sisters, I said something that I now realize can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologize. My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman. I would never intend to hurt another. I am grateful for opportunities to speak with Nat, Miss Cambodia, and H’Hen, Miss Vietnam, directly about this experience. These are the moments that matter most to me. A post shared by Sarah Rose Summers (@sarahrosesummers) on Dec 13, 2018 at 9:41am PST

She made the controversial comments in a now-expired Instagram Live video that was re-posted on the Instagram of Grand Slam Beauty Alliance.

In the two clips, Summers is seen talking to Miss Australia, Francesca Hung, and Miss Colombia, Valeria Morales, according to Yahoo.

“What do you think about Miss Vietnam?” Summers asks the women about their fellow contestant H’Hen Nie.

“She’s so cute and she pretends to know so much English, and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she goes ... ” Summers says, nodding her head, smiling and laughing.

“She’s adorable,” Summers says as she nods her head again in an apparent imitation of Miss Vietnam.

In another clip, Summers brings up Miss Cambodia, Rern Sinat.

“Miss Cambodia? Is here and doesn’t speak any English. And not a single other person speaks her language. Can you imagine?” Summers says. “Like, Francesca said, that would be so isolating and I said yes, I mean, and, just confusing all the time.”

She points to Miss Colombia. “You at least, you have other, you do speak great English and you have other Spanish-speaking ...”

The other women agree that that situation would be hard.

“Poor Cambodia,” Summers says.

The comments have drawn fire on social media, where Summers is being accused of bullying.

“BULLY MEAN WOMEN!!! PITY YOU GLORIOUS LADIES!!! Instead of empowering other women you three chose to degrade someone who have done nothing wrong to you!!! Tsk! Tsk!” wrote one person on the Grand Slam Beauty Alliance Instagram.

“You are in a competition called Miss Universe and not in an English class my dear!” one critic commented, E! reported. “I think this is not a good example of being a queen.”

“Regina George is that you?” fashion Instagram account DietPrada asked, referencing the leader of all mean girls in the movie, “Mean Girls.”

“This is basically what normalized xenophobia looks like,” DietPrada wrote. “If she’s trying to show empathy, the condescending, intolerant tone tells a different story. A reminder that you’re participating in a competition in a country/continent where English is NOT the primary language.”

In her apology, Summers wrote that the pageant “is an opportunity for women from around the world to learn about each other’s cultures, life experiences and views.

“In a moment where I intended to admire the courage of a few of my sisters, I said something that I now realize can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologize.

“My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman. I would never intend to hurt another. I am grateful for opportunities to speak with Nat, Miss Cambodia, and H’Hen, Miss Vietnam, directly about this experience. These are the moments that matter most to me.”

When the uproar took off, some of the pageant queen’s supporters said the incident had been blown out of proportion, some blaming the media for having a hand in that.

“Seen the video and it’s not as bad as the media make it out to be if not bad at all,” said one commenter on the New York Post Twitter account. “Question: Are contestants taped using the lavatory as well.”

“This is not bullying,” another person wrote on TMZ’s Twitter. “She was saying she was adorable & speaking how people were different. This is why people are so sensitive. I think TMZ is trying to play hero for a little guy & trying to beat their own chest.”

Thursday, the pageant Instagram account, Sash Factor Info, posted a video clip showing Summers, Miss Australia and Miss Cambodia appearing to smooth things over before posing together for a photo.

″@sarahrosesummers @francesca.hung and @rern_sinat Miss Universe Australia, USA And Cambodia, clearing up some misunderstanding,” the post with the video said.

Summers’ mother told TMZ on Thursday that her daughter’s comments were taken out of context.

“She in no way meant any harm,” said her mom, identified only as Desiree. “She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.”

She said her daughter wasn’t mocking Miss Vietnam by nodding her head.

She “was just recreating how Miss Vietnam acts when she doesn’t understand what someone is saying. She wasn’t trying to mock her,” she told TMZ.

Summers grew up suburban Omaha, where she graduated from Papillion-La Vista South High School in 2013, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

McClatchy reported in May that she earned two bachelor’s degrees from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth — in child development and strategic communication — and also minored in business.

She belonged to Zeta Tau Alpha sorority in college and has taken on the issue of eating disorders as her cause.

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