Beauty pageants early in their histories, some dating back to the 1920s, barred women of colour from participating. Even after organizations began changing their rules to accept women of all races, there was still a lingering frustration and opposition to join. But that has changed over the years and in this 2019, history was made when Black Women now hold crowns in 5 Major Beauty Pageants.
Within a space of a week; two ladies won the 2 worldwide major pageants: Jamaican Stunner: Toni–Ann Singh was crowned Miss World 2019 last Saturday whilst a week before, South African Beauty: Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe 2019; other titleholders were Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, Miss America.
Only in the last 50 years have black women become more prevalent in these competitions. Janelle Commissiong was the first black Miss Universe in 1977, Vanessa Williams was the first black Miss America in 1983, and Carole Anne-Marie Gist, the first black Miss USA contestant, was crowned in 1990. The following year Janel Bishop became the first black Miss Teen USA.
Tunzi’s win is South Africa’s third Miss Universe crown; she is the first black woman to win the Miss Universe title since Leila Lopes was crowned Miss Universe 2011, and the first to do so with afro-textured hair.
In an Instagram post by former Miss Universe 2011, Leila Lopes said: “Finally the universe is giving value to Black Skin.”
Tunzi said: “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 beautiful.” “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.” “Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it,” Tunzi wrote on Instagram after her win. “May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams and may they see their faces reflected in mine.”
- Cheslie Kryst (Miss USA 2019)
- Kaliegh Garris (Miss Teen USA 2019)
- Nia Franklin (Miss America 2019)
- Zozibini Tunzi (Miss Universe 2019)
- Toni-Ann Singh (Miss World 2019)
Toni-Ann in a tweet celebrating her win on Saturday said: “please know that you are worthy and capable of achieving your dreams. This crown is not mine but yours. You have a PURPOSE.”
Now, as role models, all five women have become an inspiration to other girls who want to follow in their footsteps. With the fame they have now, they said they’re inspiring girls by telling them that nothing is impossible. Michelle Obama captured her feelings about it in a single hashtag: #BlackGirlMagic. And this typifies what I was also feeling – a change has come and is here to stay – #BlackBeauty comes in all shades and uniqueness.
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