The 2016 Miss USA was history in the making this year as the top three finalists were all women of color, setting a new and inspiring trend towards inclusiveness and diversity in the highly competitive world of beauty pageants. The first Miss USA crown taken by a black woman was Carole Gist in 1990, followed in 1993 by Kenya Moore of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame. Current Miss USA Deshauna Barber, claimed her 2016 title as the ninth African-American winner of the pageant whilst representing the District of Columbia. Deshauna is a military and IT specialist inspiring thousands of young African-American women to follow their dreams and redefine the standard measure of beauty. Now the crowned image of beauty, Deshauna has launched her media tour and photo shoots to promote her success, career and charity platform.
The 2016 Finalists
All three of the top finalists were of color, solidifying African American women’s status as beauty icons. This year’s Miss USA Pageant was a tribute to the change in perceptions of beauty, and an inspiration to all young ladies looking to follow their aspirations of becoming the next Miss USA.
Deshauna found herself in the top three finalists for this year’s Miss USA turning heads with her strong attitude, impressive military career, and of course unrivaled beauty. Deshauna was sometimes a tomboy, in fact, she talks about the challenges of entering the contest and trying to learn about makeup, nail polish and hairstyles. This no-nonsense beauty queen never spent much time worrying about her looks, and when she was discovered at a local Target, that changed her life forever.
Another top finalist, Chelsea Hardin, came to the lime light representing her home state of Hawaii. This well traveled and polished contestant has lived all over the world, traveled to over a dozen countries and won a free ride at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA for a division 1 volleyball scholarship.
After being crowned Miss Georgia in early 2016, Emanii set her eyes to the grand stage of Miss USA. Emanii is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but studies at Valdosta State University. In 2014, she was named as fourth runner up in the Miss Georgia pageant, but that didn’t deter her from following her dreams and landing in the 2016 top three. Recently she told TPN News, “I plan to be well off financially, living in a big city, and hopefully married with a child or two. Most importantly, I plan to be happy and enjoying life.”
As America continues to grow, evolve, and be more inclusive and diverse in its depictions of female beauty, observers are hopeful that the standards of beauty will continue to change for the better. We are seeing a movement of style, elegance, and beauty changing right before our eyes, with proof of that being the top 3 2016 Miss USA finalists all being women of color. What does that mean for the future of the pageant? Will we see more people of varying shades and ethnic backgrounds break into the pageant world? Are we on the cusp of a total shift in society’s perspectives? Only time will tell, but for now, Miss USA 2016, Deshauna Barber, is happy to share the limelight and represent!