The best moments from Miss Universe that may make us believe in beauty pageants again - and the worst

Miss Universe in Bangkok
Miss Universe in Bangkok
Getty Images

While 24-year-old Catriona Gray from The Phillippines, walked away with the ultimate crown as Miss Universe 2018, and our stunning Tamaryn Green her first princess; there are other contestants who caught our attention for good and bad reasons, and others who simply won over our hearts. 

Miss Sierra Leone makes the most out of missing the competition

One beauty queen who got social media talking was Miss Sierra Leone, Marie Esther Bangura. Unfortunately she did not step onto the Miss World stage because she had arrived late from her war-torn country.

READ MORE: WATCH: Naomi Campbell wants more models of colour to be included in fashion

According to Bangkok Post, it took her two weeks to travel to Ghana and then Nigeria to apply for a visa. She then had to fly from Ethiopia to Bangkok, arriving on the 8th of December.

"I always wanted to represent my country and that's why I tried so hard to be here. Since I'm not competing, I still feel good because I got to meet people and learn new things," she said.

Turning lemons into lemonade, the beauty queen enjoyed interacting with locals, sampling their traditional clothing and touring the Bangkok temples. A queen. 

READ MORE: Beauty queen shaves head to buy Christmas gifts for underprivileged kids

Miss USA apologises

Miss USA Sarah Rose, also 24 years old, apologised after much backlash to her mocking remarks about non-English speaking contestants.

Fashion commentators Diet Prada said: "This is basically what normalised xenophobia looks like. If she's trying to show empathy, the condescending, intolerant tone tells a different story. A reminder that you're participating in a competition in a country/continent where English is NOT the primary language." 

In an Instagram apology post, Sarah is seen hugging Miss Cambodia Rern Sinat.

READ MORE: "Your background doesn’t define you" – Bokang Montjane-Tshabalala

“I said something that I now realise can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologise. My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman. I would never intend to hurt another” She wrote. 

Miss Vietnam left us in awe

The only beauty queen with short hair in Top 20, 26-year-old Miss Vietnam H'Hen Niê gave us a powerful opening statement, “From nothing, I am here. You can do it” she said.

This beauty queen worked as a nanny to pay for her education. Fluent in both Rade language and Vietnamese language, she said no to being married off at 14, which is still prevalent in the country.

She also served serious hair goals with her short pixie cut, which is an unusual and commendable stance against cookie cutter beauty standards.

And Miss Great Britain also threw beauty standards out the window

Dee-Ann Rogers, 25 already made bittersweet history as the first black woman to win the title since 1952, according the The Independent. 

Her locs and dark skin sadly aren't features you see regularly enough on this kind of stage so it was refreshing to see her compete in the competition which seems to celebrate a look that prefers what people are calling a racially ambiguous aesthetic.

READ MORE: Miss SA finalist, Noxolo Ndebele starts her own beauty pageant (with a twist) and fashion line

Miss Universe hypnotised us with her magical volcanic dress

Catriona Gray’s volcano inspired dress took the cake. Not only because it was symbolic and stunningly intricate but because it is the dress her mother saw in a dream when she was only 13 years old.

"When I was 13, my mum told me 'Honey, I dreamt of you winning [Miss Universe] in a red dress.' At that time, I thought nothing of it, and today my mother's dream came true," she wrote in an instagram post.

“Today, Catriona is coming home. She is celebrating her roots – she is celebrating Albay! The prominent and iconic Mayon Volcano is the penultimate inspiration for this creation. It is dubbed as the ‘perfect cone’ because of its symmetric conical form” wrote designer Mak Tumang.

READ MORE: As Victoria’s Secret CEO resigns, will the lingerie company finally realise "fat" and trans women are sexy too?

Miss Spain competes as the first transgender beauty queen

The reigning Miss Spain left her heart on that stage and won ours. Angela Ponce, 27, made history by being part of the pageant, representing the marginalised and showcasing her Spanish culture.

“This is for you, for those who have no visibility, no voice, because we all deserve a world of respect, inclusion and freedom, “And today I am here, proudly representing my nation, all women and human rights.” she wrote

READ MORE: Why Shonda Rhimes and Serena Williams deserve to be on the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women Forbes list

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