Growing up, I wanted to be a model. One of my favorite shows was “America’s Next Top Model” and I always made sure I watched the runway shows during fashion week. One thing I noticed though, was there weren’t many Black models or at least a variety Black women deemed as beautiful in the media. Of course I love Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, but I always wondered why there was such a lack of representation.
It was a breath of fresh air to see Zozibini Tunzi, Miss South Africa, recently be crowned Miss Universe 2019. After excelling through the rounds of swimsuit and evening gown struts, she was questioned about social issues and had one final chance to explain why she was the right choice.
“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,” she said in her response. “I think it is time that 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.”
To top her historical win, history was made again because for the first time Miss America (Nia Franklin), Miss USA (Cheslie Kryst), Miss Teen USA (Kaliegh Garris), Miss Universe (Tunzi) and now Miss World (Toni-Ann Singh) are all Black women! To go from people protesting Miss Universe in 1968 due to the lack of Black finalists, to the fact that Black women couldn’t even compete in the first 30 years of the Miss America pageant, these 2019 wins are monumental.
In an interview on “Good Morning America” with Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA, Miss Universe was asked if she got pressured to straighten her hair or wear weaves. “I wanted to challenge that and to say this hair can be beautiful too because it’s how I was born to look,” said Tunzi beauty. “I did get pressures to, but I didn’t want to fall into that pressure.”
For young Black girls to be able to look on TV and see these women and say, “She looks like me!” will hold so much impact in their life. From society not deeming African American women as beautiful and the colorism within the Black community, their wins will spread so much positivity and inspire Black girls to love the skin they were born in, their hair texture, and everything else in between that comes with the beauty of being Black.
By Amaris Edwards, Senior, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep