Schoolgirl Watters – who is of mixed European/ Fijian heritage – has been criticised since beating a bevy of full-blooded indigenous women to win the beauty title on the weekend.
Further, the fact that the competition was overseen by New Zealand supermodel Rachel Hunter and other non-Fijian judges has added to the controversy, News. com. au reported.
The ugly race row has even included attacks on Watters’ hair, with many claiming the model chosen to represent the island nation should have a “buiniga” – the local word used to describe the naturally-fuzzy Fijian hairstyle.
Hundreds of hateful comments had to be deleted from the official Miss World Fiji Facebook page.
A pageant spokeswoman said the harsh criticism would in no way affect the decision.
“In the past few days, there has been nothing but negative criticism and remarks from our own people,” she posted on the Facebook site.
“Instead of bringing all the wrong attention to our brand and country, why not start supporting our ambassador, building her up and praying that she impacts the world with her story?
“Fiji has received enough negative press already, shouldn’t this be one for making up for lost ground?
“Our forefathers promoted unity and respect and, sadly, in our society today this is not evident (among) many who call themselves proud Fijians,” she added.
Racial division is deep-seated in Fiji’s social and political history.
The debate about Watters’ age was sparked by Rose Foulger, who runs the Miss World New Zealand pageant and claimed the Fijian selection was a breach of the Miss World regulation rules.
Chief judge Hunter – the former wife of rocker Rod Stewart – hit back, saying she was 16 herself when first scouted as the “Tip Top” girl.
The Miss World 2012 pageant will take place in Mongolia on August 18.