Zozibini Tunzi: ‘A woman who looks like me was never considered to be beautiful and I think that it is time that stops today’

Zozibini Tunzi (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
Zozibini Tunzi (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

International beauty pageants, like Miss Universe, are gradually becoming more diverse. As Patrick Starrr, one of the hosts of the Miss Universe backstage Chi lounge pointed out, this year’s contestants at the pageant included models with curly hair and short hair.

Zozibini, of course, stood out with her short natural haircut.

At the international pageant, she said, "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, and I think that 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."

READ MORE: OPINION: Zozibini Tunzi has left the door open for all of us to walk through

She is only the third Miss South Africa to bring home the title and, in the handful of black winners in the competition, Zozibini is the first black South African contestant to win Miss Universe.

Before Zozibini, the previous black Miss Universe was Angola’s Leila Lopes in 2011, who was preceded by Botswana’s Mpule Kwelagobe in 1999 and Trinidad & Tobago’s Wendy Fitzwilliam in 1998.

READ MORE: Sibabalwe Gcilitshana on being the first queer woman in the Miss SA pageant

The importance of having young girls represented on international stages such as Miss Universe is a sentiment held by many across the world. Supermodel Halima Aden has, throughout her career, emphasised how important it was for her to be reflected on world stages.

As co-host at the Chi Lounge at this year’s Miss Universe, Halima said, “I grew up in America and I remember not feeling represented and not having a single woman to look up to that looked like me.”

READ MORE:  Halima Aden becomes Sports Illustrated's first-ever Hijab model to grace their highly anticipated annual swimsuit issue

Halima has gone on to become the first international hijab supermodel and the Muslim to wear a hijab and a burkini on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine.

Following Jacqui Mofokeng shattering the glass ceiling in 1993 as the first black Miss South Africa, Zozibini is paving the way for more black girls to see themselves as celebrated versions of beauty.

Hailing from Tsolo in the Eastern Cape Province, 26-year-old Zozibini is setting an unprecedented example for young girls in South Africa and around the world.

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