Allow me the pleasure of introducing Karolina Shiino. Barstool, Karolina. Karolina, Barstool.
If you're not familiar with her work, Shiino was born in Ukraine but has lived in Japan since she was a young child, and has been a citizen of the country ever since. She speaks Japanese, lives as someone from Japan, practices Japanese customs. And now proudly represents her adopted homeland as the newly crowned Miss Japan, 2024.
Still, her winning the pageant was not without controversy. In one of the most ethnically homogeneous nations in all the world, there was a outcry against the idea that someone who is not of Japanese descent could be Miss Japan:
The matter has parked one of those classic cultural debates about whether someone being "from" a place can automatically be considered "of" that place. Think Jaws, where the woman explains to Brody's wife that since she and the Chief weren't born on Amity island they can never be considered islanders.
On the one hand, one can argue the people criticizing Shiino's pageant win are just being -ists and -phobes for rejecting her simply on the basis of her ethnicity. On the other, they can claim that by picking someone of European descent, the judges are saying white women are prettier than Japanese women. And in a broader context, the whole debate cuts to the core of a country's national identity and ethno-politics.
Not to mention the much more vital issue of what exactly beauty pageants are for? Do they exist to judge female attractiveness on the basis of looks, poise, swimsuit wearing, talent, walking in high heels, and who middle aged men would most like to bone? Or is there some other reason involving identity politics?
Sadly, we'll never get to hear that debate played out. Because Miss Japan has had to turn in her tiara over something much more in keeping with the tradition of all beauty pageants. She was caught boning a married man:
NY Post - Karolina Shiino, 26, wrote on Instagram Monday that she offered to renounce her title just two weeks after getting it, while also parting ways with her modeling agency over the scandal of her tryst with an influencer known as the “muscle doctor.”
“I’m very sorry for causing the tremendous trouble and for acting as if betraying everyone who has supported me,” Shiino said.
The Weekly Bonshun magazine reported last week that the newly crowned beauty queen had been in a relationship with a doctor and social media influencer, Takuma Maeda, who is married.
Shiino initially confirmed the relationship but claimed she did not know her lover was married.
Later, she admitted that her earlier response was “not true,” and that she did know that Maeda, known as the “muscle doctor,” had a wife.
Shiino apologized for lying, saying that she was in a state of shock and fear over the exposé and panicked.
Tragic. Simply tragic. Poor Karolina could've been a pioneer in the field of pageantry. She could've spent the rest of her reign touring the country and inspiring girls - of Japanese descent and otherwise - to follow their dreams, grow up pretty, learn to look good in a bikini, and someday they too could wear the crown and sash.
But now she's just somebody's sidepiece. Just another fangirl, doctoring the Muscle Doctor's muscle, as it were. Japan can tolerate a lot of things, perhaps even a Ukranian born Miss Japan, had she stuck it out and served her country well. But a homewrecker? No chance. They might be a people that sells panties out of vending machines and has game shows where they put the bewbs of large-breasted women on scales. But carrying on an affair with a married influencer is something they cannot abide.
So farewell, Karolina Shiino. Long live the queen.