“To that little girl in St. Thomas, Jamaica, and all the girls around the world — please believe in yourself,” were the words of 2019 Miss World Beauty Pageant, Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica. Her victory marked history as with her crowning, the world's five top-most beauty titles are now owned by black women.
Source: Gulf News
Even though black women have previously won these competitions, it is the first time that all the pageants have crowned them winners simultaneously.
Source: The Straits Times
Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa is Miss Universe, Kaleigh Garris is Miss Teen USA, Chesle Kryst is Miss USA and Nia Franklin is Miss America. Together, their titles show how far the world has come from the days of discrimination and cultural bias when only light-skinned women with slender bodies were viewed as the typical picture of “beauty”.
It might not be revolutionary but the milestone has changed the conventional lens of beauty across the world and the communities where dark skin is still not held in high regard might learn from this historic moment.
Professor of Africana studies at Cornell University, Nowlie Rooks stated that the title held by “identifiably black women really does say something about the level of comfort of black skin in public” and even though we still have a long way to go, the discrimination is being gradually erased from multiple cultures.
Source: Cornell Chronicle
Miss World, Toni-Ann Singh was available for the interview after her crowning and emphasized on the importance of self-worth among black women saying, “Please know that you’re worthy and capable of achieving your dreams. The crown is not mine but yours. It is for you to truly understand that no matter where you're from and the cards you’re dealt in life- your dreams are valid”.
Unlike previous beauty pageants, the committee now looks for individuals who have achieved extraordinary feats in their personal and professional lives. The change is lauded by many as now the accomplishments and backgrounds are taken into account instead of just appearances and the Miss America Organization is planning to remove the swimsuit requirement in the future to make these pageants more inclusive.
The achievement is a great one for black communities, especially women worldwide and Miss USA 2019, Nia Franklin said ‘People will argue that race doesn't matter. But race does matter in America. Because of the history, because of slavery”. And she is not wrong.
For many years, popular fashion brands have used light-skinned models with straight hair to promote the typical image of beauty in the United States and the fact that the top-most competitions in the world were won by black women, not just because of beauty but also due to their exceptional roles in promoting charity across the world, is truly commendable.
Many congratulated the winners among which actress, Halle Berry and senator Kamala Harris are prominent.
Even when Vanessa Williams won the Miss America title in 1984 and became the first black woman to do so, people emphasized that the “light skin” mindset was not completely defeated.
Beauty pageants have long been criticized for promoting discrimination, but bigger changes are underway. In 2012, Miss Universe committee that also regulates Miss USA and Miss Teen USA expanded the competition to include transgender people and the decision was appreciated by many around the globe.
With the multicultural society of the United States finally reconsidering the stereotypical gender norms and introducing laws to tackle problems that women of color have faced for years, the news definitely came as an encouragement.
Black participants of pageants often face racism and the milestone that all five women have achieved collectively will undoubtedly change the way the world regards beauty!