In its 68 years of existence, only six black women have won the Miss Universe competition.
These six melanin goddesses have defied the beauty standard. Their victories brought glory to them, their countries, and to dark skinned women all over the world.
BUZZ fam, we’re gonna take you down memory lane to highlight these women who have set new beauty standards.
Miss Universe 2019: Zozibini Tunzi from South Africa
Three South African women have won the Miss Universe competition. But Zozibini Tunzi is the only black woman to have won the coveted crown for her country. This was the first time that the crown would be placed on an afro! And Zozibini recognized the significance of the moment. “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. I think it is time that 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,” she said following her win.
Miss Universe 2011: Leila Lopes from Angola
Lopes was the first Angolan to win the title of Miss Universe. Lopes victory came 12 years after a black woman won the competition. Lopes is currently an Actress, TV host, and beauty queen. She also studied business management at the university of Suffolk in Ipswick, UK. After winning the pageant, Lopes worked to raise awareness on HIV and AIDS.
Miss Universe 1999: Mpule Kwelagobe from Botswana
If there’s one thing you can learn from this beauty queen is that if you try once and it didn’t work, then don’t be afraid to try again. Mpule entered the beauty pageant in her country in 1997 but did not win. Two years later, she entered again, and won! If that wasn’t impressive enough, she went on to be crowned Miss Universe 1999. After winning the crown, Mpule too worked to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS. She also advocated for young women to become more educated in sexual reproductive education.
Miss Universe 1998: Wendy Fitzwilliam
Wendy Fitzwilliams, was the second Trinidadian to win the Miss Universe title. After winning the title, she too fought to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. She also founded the Hibiscus Foundation in Trinidad & Tobago to raise responsiveness in the area. She also worked to provide financial assistance to families and children’s homes in Trinidad and Tobago. Fitzwilliams is also a lawyer, actress, singer, TV Host.
Miss Universe 1995: Chelsi Smith from the USA
Smith was the first black American Miss Universe. When Smith won the competition, it had been 15 years since the USA had brought the crown home. She went into the finals as the highest placed competitor after the preliminary competition. Smith was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2017 and died at 45 years old on September 8, 2018.
Miss Universe 1976: Janelle Commissiong from Trinidad and Tobago
Commissiong was the trendsetter. She was the first black woman to ever win the Miss Universe in the history of the pageant. After her win, the pageant tried to encourage diversity in the competition.