Beauty pageants early in their histories, some dating back to the 1920s, barred women of colour from participating. Even after organizations began changing their rules to accept women of all races, there was still a lingering frustration and opposition to join.
Black women weren't allowed to compete in the Miss America pageant until the 1940s, and the first black contestant didn't take that stage until 30 years later. The first black Miss USA wasn't crowned until 1990.
And only this month, Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA are all women of colour. For the very first time! Let's toast to melanin really quickly.
5 Top Beauty Pageants And Their 5 Black Queens: Who Are They?
The women who emerged as winners of the world's top beauty pageants are listed as follows:
- Tori-Ann Singh, Winner 2019 Miss World Beauty Pageant
- Zozibini Tunzi, Winner, 2019 Miss Universe Beauty Pageant
- Cheslie Kryst - Winner, 2019 Miss USA Beauty Pageant
- Nia Franklin - Winner, 2019 Miss America Beauty Pageant
- Kaliegh Garris - Winner, 2019 Miss Teen USA Beauty Pageant
These queens are not token winners for their race, and they deserved every ounce of their win. Let's take a quick look at these history makers, who are proof that nothing is really impossible. They tell us that hard work, persistence and authenticity will always get the prize in the end. Now you know who to suggest as role models for your daughters.
Miss World, Tori-Ann Singh, 23, is from Morant, Jamaica. She graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Psychology and Women's Studies. She plans to enroll in medical school soon, according to the Miss World website. She's passionate about women and advocacy.
Also passionate about women and advocacy is Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi. Prior to winning Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi was completing a Bachelor of Technology graduate degree in Public Relations Management; at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. And she worked as a graduate intern in the public relations department of Ogilvy Cape Town.
Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst earned both her law degree and MBA from Wake Forest University and completed her undergraduate work at the University of South Carolina. She practices civil litigation for a law firm and has a passion for helping prisoners who may have been sentenced unjustly get reduced punishments, free of charge.
Miss America is an opera singer who works in charity, and Miss Teen USA is busy tearing down fashion stereotypes.
5 Inspirational Lessons From The Lives Of These Queens
Find Your Tribe, And Help Them Be Great, Like Miss World
Tori-Ann pledged to use her platform to advocate for women. She believes that women are great, and they should know just how great they are. So that together, they change the world, because they can.
"I will continue to be an advocate for women," she said, after winning the Miss World Jamaica crown in September. "I believe women are the lifeblood of our community. So, I will continue to inspire and work with them, so they understand just how great their potential is."
Young girls must know what potentials they have to effect change. They should be taught how to light up their corner of the world, and ultimately make it better than it was.
Pick A Struggle, And Run With It, Like Miss Universe
Zozi is passionate about ending gender-based violence, and she won't keep quiet about it.
In a recent Instagram post, she called on her fellow South Africans to write love letters pledging support for women in her country.
"It is my hope that these pledges will start, and continue a conversation around gender-based violence," Tunzi wrote. "We have to start the narration where right-thinking people act as role models for those who think it's okay to mistreat women."
The sad truth is our world needs healing in several areas; whether it is gender-based violence, or rape, or child abuse, or even drug abuse. And it is up to us to heal our world. Zozi has picked a struggle to fight for. The world needs more young women (and men) to fight for it. Let's teach our children what it means to fight for change. Most parents would rather shield their kids from the harsh realities that exist; but they need to know. So that they care enough to change the status quo.
Help The Helpless, And Challenge Injustice, Like Miss USA
Receiving three degrees from two universities, Kryst is a 28-year-old attorney with a mission to help reform America's justice system. Cheslie helps unjustly sentenced prisoners get a reduced sentence. And she does it pro bono. Talk about helping people who may not be able to pay you back!
In a video played during this week's competition, Kryst told a story about how a judge at a legal competition suggested she wear a skirt instead of pants because judges prefer skirts.
"Glass ceilings can be broken wearing either a skirt or pants," she said. "Don't tell females to wear different clothes while you give the men substantive feedback on their legal arguments."
Women have a lot to deal with in the world today. That's why young girls should be courageous and bold; to stand up for themselves and challenge the status quo. Sounds like Miss America could teach them a thing or two about it.
Discover Who You Are And Help Others Do Same, Like Miss America
Nia Franklin works with the nonprofit group Sing for Hope, which helps people including children through the power of music. An opera singer, Franklin discovered her identity through music, she explained during the Miss America competition in September. Now she helps children the same way.
"I grew up at a predominately Caucasian school, and there was only 5% minority, and I felt out of place so much because of the color of my skin," the 23-year-old North Carolina native said. "But growing up, I found my love of arts, and through music that helped me to feel positive about myself and about who I was."
Let's teach girls that it is a much bigger blessing to give help (or anything else) than to receive it. And as many lost souls as we encounter on our journey, we must help them find their way.
Be Confident, Like Miss Teen USA
When Garris took the Miss Teen USA, she did it with confidence wearing her naturally curly hair.
"I know what I look like with straight hair, with extensions, and with my curly hair, and I feel more confident and comfortable with my natural hair," the 18-year-old from Connecticut told Refinery29.
When she began competing in pageants, Garris said she had to fight against beauty standards suggesting that straight hair was better than her natural curls.
There were people who told her how they thought she should style her hair, she said. But she ignored their criticism and went on to win the title of Miss Connecticut Teen USA with her natural hair and then Miss Teen USA.
So inspire your daughters by telling them this story. Tell them about 2019 and the major paradigm shift in top beauty pageants. Let the lives of these five women make it to the bedtime story slot, and through their stories, show them that beauty pageants are not only about glorifying physical beauty. They are about good character, selflessness, love for humanity, compassion and hard work.
Tunzi thinks it's important for young girls to look at the history-making quintet to see that anything is possible.
"We can't be what we cannot see," the 26-year-old from South Africa said. "I think that's why this is so important because then young girls can look at us and feel like they, too, are important."
And she's right. When our young girls see the melting of impossibilities and the making of history; it settles in their minds for eternity.
This is a final toast, to all the young black women who will be breaking more glass ceilings in the days to come. We see you!
Also read: 10 Reasons Why We Love Our Zozibini Tunzi
This article was first published on AfricaParent.com