Zozibini Tunzi, Miss South Africa , has claimed the Miss Universe crown, beating out 89 other women from around the world last Sunday Night.
The 26-year-old natural beauty wowed the judges with her natural stage presence and winning smile, as well as her proudly South African fashion creations.
The first contestant to progress to the top 20, she did not falter at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. Her evening gown was worth the price of admission and as soon as she walked out on the stage, she was the favorite to snatch the crown.
Miss South Africa radiated confidence and grace on stage that comes from being at home in her own skin. She added an extra dimension to the final three contestants’ answers to the final question posed to them.
When asked what the most important thing we need to be teaching young girls today, Tunzi told host Steve Harvey:
“I think the most important thing we should be teaching young girls today is leadership. It is something that has been lacking in young girls and woman for a long time. Not because we don’t want to, but because of what society has labelled women to be. I think we are the most powerful beings in the world and that we should be given every opportunity. 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.”
Following up her superb response to the question, Tunzi clinched the crown with her closing statement.
“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, and 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,” Tunzi said before being crowned Miss Universe 2019.
“Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it,” Miss Universe 2019, Zozibini Tunzi, told the media after her triumphant win on Sunday night . “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.”
When asked by a reporter who her idols were growing up, she noted that it is difficult to find heroes who look like you when you are not represented….however she named Harriet Tubman and Winnie Mandela, as two heroines who inspired her “to want to do more.”
With deep brown skin and short, naturally-textured hair, Tunzi’s win also represents an increasingly shifting paradigm in beauty standards, even in the world of pageantry, which has been oft-criticized for upholding unrealistic and Eurocentric beauty standards. After telling host Steve Harvey that she’d spent the week preparing for the pageant by singing Beyoncé’s “Brown Skin Girl” each morning, Tunzi’s crowning is understandably a moment of validation for Black women around the world.
In a related interview earlier this year, she recalled the colorism, racism and insults she had to endure going into the Miss Universe competition as Miss South Africa.
Zozibini Tunzi is the first beauty queen to don the new $5 million diamond-studded Miss Universe crown, called “The Power of Unity.”
Since the Miss Universe Win, Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica was crowned Miss World marking the first time that black women have simultaneously held the titles of five of the world’s top beauty pageants.