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Black women hold the top titles in four of the biggest world pageants. Because, duh.

Black women hold the top titles in four of the biggest world pageants. Because, duh.

Miss South Africa, crowned Miss Universe last Sunday, is the fourth Black woman to join her sisters in winning a major beauty pageant.

2019 has been a good year. After the inspirational Miss South Africa  Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday night, we all came to a rather big realization — four of the world's major pageants were all won by Black women this year. And that's a pretty big deal. For decades now, beauty pageants have relied on Eurocentric beauty standards to judge their participants. And while beauty pageants overall may be archaic and perhaps no longer hold the same "prestige" they used to (because really, how long must we continue objectifying women and forcing them to compete against each other?), there is something quite powerful when four strong Black women subvert the standard and become trailblazers in their own right.



 

 

Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe, to much appreciation, last Sunday night. She affirmed in her closing statements, "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. 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." Miss South Africa is just 26 years old but has already made history with her monumental win. She is the first Black winner in eight years, following Leila Lopes from Angola who won Miss Universe in 2011.



 

 

She joins her fellow Black trailblazers Miss America Nia Franklin, Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, and Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris. Truly, 2019 was the year of the Black woman. All four women are ardent proponents of women empowerment, specifically, Black women empowerment. For instance, Franklin said in a powerful interview after her Miss America win, “It is important to little Brown and Black girls to see three strong figures, three strong women, African American women that are doing so much great work. People will argue that race doesn’t matter. But race does matter in America, because of the history, because of slavery.”



 

 

And she's right. This is the first time in history that all four titles have been held by Black women, making their wins far more monumental. Their wins ultimately weren't just about themselves, but rather, empowering other Black women who for so long have been at the bottom of the racial hierarchy. From career opportunities to beauty standards and everything in between, Black women have suffered, lagging far behind both their male and White counterparts. Now, it appears that finally, our societal ideals are changing, shifting away from the Eurocentric and towards some much-needed inclusivity.



 

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