Miss Universe is more than just outside features and superficial looks, as these queens proved.
On the outside looking in, you might think that the Miss Universe pageant is grounded in stereotypical ideas and beliefs about what a woman should look like. And while vestiges of that old-school thinking still remain, the Miss Universe pageant, and the organization as a whole, has been keeping up with the times as they implement new rules and regulations meant to signify a more welcoming, diverse, and progressive era.
More than just the looks, Miss Universe is a competition for all kinds of women to champion just causes, platform advocacies, break barriers, and yes, make history. After all, a Miss Universe is an ambassador, spokesperson, and role model for change. It’s something these queens from this year’s tilt all have in common. Check out the delegates who are proudly breaking barriers for women in pageants.
Since the start of the competition, many have tipped Miss Universe Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios to be a strong contender. And she lived up to the hype as the mental health advocate was crowned the new Miss Universe. Given her reaction, you can tell the win meant a lot to her as she made history as the first Nicaraguan ever to win Miss Universe. Now, young Nicaraguans can know that someone who looks like them can be Miss Universe.
This year’s Miss Universe competition was the first in history to let married women and those with kids compete in the competition. And the 72nd edition saw the first two mothers compete, Miss Universe Colombia Camila Avella and Miss Universe Guatemala Michelle Cohn. But it’s the former who made a big splash after she finished in the Top 5, becoming the first mother and married woman to reach that position in Miss Universe.
JANE DIPIKA GARRETT
Pageants are often criticized for perpetuating outdated beauty standards. But more and more are we seeing all kinds of women compete in pageants, with an impactful performance coming from Miss Universe Nepal Jane Dipika Garrett. The moment she stepped foot on El Salvador, the 23-year-old nurse and businesswoman radiated confidence as she proudly proved to the world that plus-sized and curvy women can compete in Miss Universe. Her uplifting aura was just one of the many reasons why she became a fan favorite and finished in the Top 20.
RIKKIE KOLLÉ AND MARINA MACHETE
In 2018, Spain’s Angela Ponce made history as the first trans woman to compete in Miss Universe. Five years later, two more trans women joined her, namely, The Netherlands’s Rikkie Kollé and Portugal’s Marina Machete, the latter of which made it to the Top 20. It’s been said before and it will be said again, trans women are women.
For the first time in history, Pakistan sent a delegate for the Miss Universe competition, an honor that fell to Miss Universe Pakistan Erica Robin. And what’s even more admirable about Erica is that despite competing in the world’s biggest beauty pageant, she didn’t let that compromise her beliefs. It was a conviction exemplified when she, along with Miss Universe Bahrain Lujane Yacoub, walked the swimsuit competition wearing a burkini in respect to her religion. With her Top 20 finish, Erica is showing the power of being true to yourself and that anyone can be part of Miss Universe
At 29 years old, Miss Universe Latvia Kate Alexeeva has the whole world right in front of her. But for the longest time in the beauty pageant world, 29 was considered old. Shocking, we know. If the old MU rules were in place, Kate wouldn’t have been able to participate. But since the organization dropped the age requirement after R’Bonney’s iconic winning answer during last year’s edition, that is no longer the case. Kate is actually the oldest contestant in the 72nd edition which does open the door for all women, regardless of age, to see themselves in the Miss Universe crown. Age really is just a number.
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