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Miss Universe winner says her skin and hair were ‘never considered beautiful’ when growing up

'I want children to see their faces reflected in mine,' Miss South Africa says

Sabrina Barr
Monday 09 December 2019 17:07 GMT
Miss Universe winner says she grew up in a world where her skin and hair 'was never considered beautiful'

South African beauty pageant contestant Zozibini Tunzi delivered stirring words about female leadership, climate change and beauty as she was crowned Miss Universe 2019 on Sunday evening.

Ms Tunzi, who is the third South African to be crowned Miss Universe, spoke on stage at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia about how when she was a child, women who looked like her were not perceived as beautiful.

“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,” the model said prior to her crowning.

“And I think that it is time that that stops. I want children to look at me and see my face and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”

Following Ms Tunzi’s win, several social media users celebrated the fact that a black woman wearing her natural hair was crowned Miss Universe.

Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, of South Africa, appears at a press conference following the pageant (Getty Images)

“#ZozibiniTunzi words can’t describe how I feel right now you gave every brown skin girl with short hair a reason to love themselves even more. You’re a true reflection of a Queen,” one person tweeted.

“A black dark skinned woman with short natural hair is Miss Universe. What a time to be alive. Our ancestors are rejoicing. We’ve come a long way black people. #ZozibiniTunzi,” another wrote.

For the final question-and-answer round of the competition, Ms Tunzi was asked by host Steve Harvey what she believes is the most important thing society should be teaching young girls today.

The 26-year-old responded that she thinks young girls should be taught about leadership.

“It’s something that has been lurking in young girls and women for a very long time, not because we don’t want to, but because of what society has labelled women to be,” she stated.

“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 young girls – to take up space.”

During another point of the competition, Ms Tunzi voiced her opinions regarding the climate movement being led by children across the globe, expressing her belief that adults “should join as well”.

“From sixth grade, I have been learning that the climate is deteriorating and the planet is dying, and it is up to us to keep our planet safe,” the Miss Universe winner said.

This year, Miss Myanmar, Swe Zin Htet, became the first openly gay contestant to take part in Miss Universe.

Ms Htet told People that she wants to use her platform to "have a big impact on the LGBTQ community back in Burma", where homosexuality is illegal.

“The difficult thing is that in Burma, LGBTQ people are not accepted,” Ms Htet said. “They are looked down on by other people and are being discriminated against.”

During the proceedings of the Miss Universe pageant, there was a moment of confusion when it appeared Mr Harvey had announced the incorrect winner of the National Costume Show.

However, the Miss Universe Organisation later confirmed that the host had not made a mishap, unlike in 2015 when he wrongly announced the first runner-up as the winner.

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