When Catriona Gray, Miss Philippines in the 2018 Miss Universe beauty pageant, won the crown for the country after only three years since the previous Filipina titleholder (Pia Wurtzbach 2015), she was acclaimed to be one of the most fitting Miss Universes ever to carry the name. Come December of the previous year, Catriona would then pass her crown to her successor as Miss Universe of 2019, Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa. Now almost two months later, there has been a rash of criticism being thrown Tunzi’s way. But thankfully she has an able defender in her own predecessor, Catriona.
The Philippine Star reports that former Miss Universe titleholder Catriona Gray has stood up for the sake of the current queen with the crown, Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi, against a recent wave of disparaging remarks about her not being “Miss Universe enough” for some vocal detractors. These complaints run on the premise that she does not reflect the ideal beauty expected of a Miss Universe titleholder, though many of them come across as thinly-veiled barbs against her black African ethnicity. There is also the fact that black African Miss Universes are rare; Zozibini was merely the second after Leila Lopes of Angola, who herself was only crowned back in 2011. Other South African Miss Universes have been white Afrikaners.
In an interview Catriona tears down the preconception that there is a gold standard convention in what makes a woman not only beautiful but also a beauty queen. “I feel like there’s no stereotypical beauty that makes you a beauty queen,” Gray remarked. “We are all representing something.” She went on to explain that beauty queens in international pageants come from different countries and territories around the world, and in each of them exist different conceptions and perceptions of what beauty means. Therefore, the bashers attacking Tunzi for not looking like most any other Miss Universe are being grossly unfair.
The Miss Universe 2019 pageant in Las Vegas pitted 90 contestants for the crow to be handed over by Catriona Gray. Zozibini Tunzi passed the stages of elimination with much riding on what was described as her “natural looks.” Her Top 3 question and answer segment, where she answered what the most important thing to be taught to girls of today, was also highly praised. The Philippines’ own representative, Gazini Ganados, only made it to the Top 20 in elimination.
Image courtesy of Interaksyon