When Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa was named Miss Universe on Sunday, her crowning signified a milestone: the first year that four of the major beauty pageants had simultaneously awarded the top prize to a black woman.
And while black women have been winners in the past- notably Vanessa Williams, who in 1984 was the first black woman to be named Miss America-they have never been as successful as this year.
Supporters of the women-Ms. Tunzi, Cheslie Kryst (this year’s Miss USA), Kaleigh Garris (Miss Teen USA) and Nia Franklin (Miss America)- say the recognition sends a powerful message that today’s beauty standards are evolving beyond European standards, light skin and thin lips.
“Finally the universe is giving value to black skin”, said Leila Lopes on her Instagram, whose a former Miss Angola who was crowned Miss Universe in 2011″. Oprah also has given grand accolades to Ms. Tunzi for her role of leadership. But perhaps the new Miss Universe put it best in her closing address on Sunday night.
“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”, she told the rapt crowd. “I think it is time that stops today. I want children to look at me and see their faces reflected in mine”.