The Miss America pageant was started in 1921, but women of color were barred from participating until 1940. It took another 30 years for the first black woman to participate in the pageant in 1970. In 1983, Vanessa Williams became the first black woman to win Miss America. Now, the winners of all four major beauty pageants are all black women.
Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa was crowned Miss Universe, making this the first time in history that Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Universe are all black women. Tunzi is the first black woman to win Miss Universe since 2011, when Leila Lopes took home the crown.
Women who were once excluded are now celebrated. Beauty is beauty, regardless of what color someone's skin is. "Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it. 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," Tunzi wrote on Instagram after her win.
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Tunzi spoke about how representation is important. "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," Tunzi said during the pageant. "I think it is time 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." During the pageant, Tunzi also chose to wear her hair natural and cropped, which she called 'a symbol of my firm belief in fair representation."
Tunzi's victory is part of a larger movement of acceptance and inclusion. "We come from such a racially divided world and so for us to be moving forward in unity together to say look, these are women that have rarely been celebrated in the past and finally people are starting to see the greatness that is within us -- I'm so happy to be a part of this," Tunzi said.
Miss USA Cheslie Kryst competed in the Miss Universe pageant as well, placing in the top 10. Miss America Nia Franklin posted a message of support for her fellow pageant queen.
Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris also congratulated Tunzi.
Many others took to social media to celebrate.
Beauty comes in all shapes and forms. It's great to see everyone celebrated.
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