Miss Universe Olivia Culpo -- AKA Nick Jonas' lovely girlfriend -- tried to do the right thing on her recent trip to India. As part of her charity work, she visited underprivileged children and inmates at overcrowded hospitals and was snapped all over the place, smiling and looking respectful, even dressed in a traditional sari, her forehead adorned with a bindi. But she made a huge mistake, Indian officials say, when she was spotted appearing to be modeling a pair of high-heeled shoes in front of the Taj Mahal. She and her handlers could be in deep trouble, as a police complaint has been filed against them by the rigid Archaeological Survey of India, which governs the Taj Mahal -- a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Olivia acted in a way that was "disrespectful," they say, and for that they feel it's necessary to drag out an entire investigation, which may end in a hefty fine. Uh, okay, if you say so, guys. Or it could have just been a minor accident.
Honestly, I'm surprised Olivia's people weren't a little more savvy than it seems they were. In the U.S. you can't just use national monuments as backdrops for commercial advertisements without applying for the proper permit, and obviously a UNESCO site seems like it's a hundred times harder to crack. So I get where the powers that be in India are coming from -- sort of. But is it really such a controversy? Does it require anything more than a slap on the wrist and a warning?
I'm going to go out on a limb and say NO. It just seems oddly inconsistent to me to make such a big deal about a shoe advertisement -- that never even materialized -- while hundreds of millions of Indian people are starving in the streets and women are treated as second-class citizens who are often blamed for their own rapes. Apples and oranges, you might say. But not when you consider how Olivia's message as she traveled India was one against violence toward women. This young woman acted as a perfect ambassador while touring India. In return, she should be let off the hook for what probably is a minor faux pas.
Do you think Miss Universe and her handlers should be punished for trying to advertise heels in front of the Taj Mahal?
Image via Christopher John S SF/Flickr