For the first time ever, all four major pageant titles are held by black women. On December 8th 2019,, Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss Universe. An accomplishment incredibly meaningful on its own for a host of reasons, it’s all the more remarkable as she joins Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris, Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, and Miss America Nia Franklin to form a quartet of history-making, strong, passionate, and beautiful black beauty queens.
Zozibini Tunzi is the third South African to win Miss Universe but notably the first black South African to wear the crown. She is just the sixth African to earn the top prize since the pageant’s start in the 1950s.
Tunzi is the first Miss Universe winner ever to sport natural, Afro-textured hair. A passionate advocate for natural beauty, she told Insider that many people encouraged her to wear a wig. Ultimately, she decided to be herself and that meant proudly rocking short natural hair. Pageantry calls to question how we define beauty and Tunzi is eager to celebrate the idea that “beauty does not look one certain way.”
For the current quartet of winners, wearing the crown means positively impacting the way young black girls see themselves. “Representation and inclusion is something that’s so huge that people like to take for granted,” Tunzi told Yahoo Lifestyle. “I want young girls and women to look at me and feel like they could be represented as well in society.”
Many famous voices chimed in with hearty congratulations for Tunzi, including Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Viola Davis. Several messages included the perfect hashtag for the occasion, #BlackGirlMagic. Back home, South Africans are standing proud. The excitement has been particularly palpable in her hometown of Tsolo where people have been taking to the streets in celebration of Zozi.
As Miss Universe, Tunzi’s home base for the next year will be NYC. She’ll travel the world for many events and special appearances where she’ll use her platform to continue to encourage young girls and women to take up space, to be leaders, and to be proud of who they are.