Yes, the Miss Universe pageant has its share of detractors. There is, for example, that swimsuit competition.
But then there is this year’s winner to consider: Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa.
When Tunzi was crowned as the winner of the 2019 Miss Universe competition on Sunday night, she took a moment to speak about the importance of shifting antiquated beauty standards — and finally celebrating “black girl magic.”
“I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me — with my kind of skin and my kind of hair — was never considered to be beautiful,” the 26-year-old said during her closing statement. “I think it is time that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face, and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”
Tunzi is the pageant’s first black winner in eight years, since Leila Lopes from Angola took home the crown in 2011. In her official Miss Universe bio, the 26-year-old is described as a strong proponent of natural beauty who “encourages women to love themselves as they are.”
She wore her hair in a natural, short style during the competition, which she said was “a symbol of my firm belief in fair representation.”
Even her outfit in the national costume segment reflected her beliefs. Tunzi had asked South African men to demonstrate their solidarity with the gender equality campaign #HeforShe by writing letters to honor and celebrate South African women. The letters, written on colorful ribbons, were woven into her costume, which was called “Wave of Love.”
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