The ‘Miss Universe’ Beauty Pageant

Fashion and global cultures come together to demonstrate ‘beauties can have brains too’

The Miss Universe contest undoubtedly is the grandest beauty pageant in the world. Each year contestants from pretty much around the globe compete and showcase their talent, their country’s culture and what, over the years, I have come to regard the beauty pageant to be a celebration of: ‘beauties can have brains too’. It’s really been a mixed bag of winners for the American beauty pageant but, overwhelmingly, they have been from countries whose cultures I have always loved to immerse myself in.

I think when the big question of diversity is thrown into the picture for a beauty pageant originating in the West, I feel that the greatest example of diversity is always demonstrated by a plethora of winners from South America and India. I know it’s been demonstrated by three African countries previously, as well: Angola (in 2011), Namibia (in 1992) and Botswana (in 1999), which was an interesting display of African culture for the international beauty pageant, especially with Botswana because the year it won was also the first time the country had entered itself in the beauty pageant.

But when it comes to exotic favourites, I have always liked to see India win. In 1994, Sushmita Sen became the first Indian woman to be crowned Miss Universe, and it was a magnificent moment – India’s always been a hot favourite with me for the country’s ability to break through societal and cultural barriers for the Miss Universe contest and demonstrate that beauty can be diversified and be equally compelling.