South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi took home the Miss Universe crown over the weekend, making her the first black woman to do so since 2011.
- This year marks the first year that the winners of Miss America,
- Miss USA,
- Miss Teen USA
- and now Miss Universe
- are all black women.
South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe over the weekend, making her the first black woman to win the renowned beauty pageant since Leila Lopes in 2011 and capping off a triumphant year for black women within the pageant circuit. It marks the first year Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA—and now Miss Universe—are all black women, according to CNN.
Tunzi’s crowning win is notable for many reasons. For one, she chose to flaunt her natural hair—a chic, cropped, textured cut not uncommon to black women everywhere, but definitely uncommon within the pageant world—taking a stand against antiquated beauty standards for black women.
“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,” Tunzi said during her closing address. “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.”
Many feel, however, it was Tunzi’s comments on instilling leadership skills in young women today that secured her the Miss Universe crown—they even grabbed the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who tweeted her congratulations and afterward invited Tunzi to speak at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.
“[Leadership] is something that’s been lacking in young women and girls for a very long time, not because we don’t want to [lead], but because of what society has labeled women to be,” said Tunzi. “I think we are the most powerful beings in 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. Nothing is as important as taking up space in society and cementing yourself.”