It’s time to celebrate everyone, because South Africa just won Miss Universe. Admittedly we’re all pretty excited about this, and as a fellow South African, I may just be that extra bit excited. 26-year-old Zozibini Tunzi was born and raised in South Africa and is a champion for natural beauty and an advocate for gender-based violence. When she received her crown, she was representing her own country, the whole continent and not to mention black women everywhere. She was even repping those of us with short natural hair. In her phenomenal response to her final question: What should we be teaching young girls today? She answered leadership: “It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time – not because we don’t want to, but because of what society has labeled women to be…I think we are the most powerful beings on the world, and that we should be given every opportunity. And that is what we should be teaching these young girls – to take up space.”
Amen. It seriously can’t get better than that.
Considering pageants and beauty standards, in general, are typically dominated by Western ideals, Zozibini’s win is a win for women of color everywhere, a celebration of diversity and representation on the main stage. And if we didn’t have enough to celebrate, her win does not stand alone. 2019 marks the first time in history when Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Universe are all black women. That’s pretty damn extraordinary, and in some cases admittedly a long time overdue. But that won’t stop us from celebrating until next year. Because a win for one is a win for all.
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Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it. 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. I proudly state my name Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019!