Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi Continues Black Beauty’s Reign Over the Pageant World

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Dec 11, 2019

When South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday (December 8), she tweeted, “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 am #MissUniverse2019.

Indeed, Black women are running beauty pageants, as Tunzi’s win marked “the first year that four of the major beauty pageants had simultaneously awarded the top prize to a Black woman,” The New York Times wrote in a story published Tuesday (December 10).

Completing the pageantry reign are Miss USA’s Cheslie Kryst, Miss Teen USA’s Kaliegh Garris and Miss America’s Nia Franklin. (Flashback: In 1984, singer and actor Vanessa Williams was the first Black woman crowned Miss America.) After accepting her crown, Tunzi told the audience, “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,” The Times reported.

The world appears to be catching up—belatedly, as the Black community has long complained of the lack of diverse representation in the beauty arena. As Hilary Levey Friedman, a visiting professor of education at Brown University who is researching beauty pageants for a book, told The Times, “The idea of what we think is beautiful has expanded. Skin color. Body type. Curly hair. If you look at all this year’s winners, they look like themselves.” And it’s a stunning reality.