These Top Beauty Queens Showcase Black Beauty

Miss USA Salutes
Abeni Jones
December 17, 2019

Beauty pageants have a long, racist history. The first Black Miss America winner was in 1970 - FIFTY years after the pageant launched. For years, Black women were prohibited from entering.

That’s just one of the many criticisms of beauty pageants; they have also long been derided as sexist for objectifying women and focusing on external beauty. But there’s more to the story.

Beauty in America has always been anti-Black. For decades, Black pageant participants were pressured to wear “pageant hair,” meaning a long, straight weave or chemically-relaxed hair. 

And while there were no official “paper bag tests,” light-skinned Black women are more likely to be winners.

All of this history makes 2019 even more significant. This year was the first time in history that all of the winners of the five largest pageants were Black women!

AND most of them are darker-skinned, and three of the five have their natural curls on display!

Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi makes clear how significant her win is: “I grew up in a world where women who look like me… [were] never considered to be beautiful... I want children to look at me, and see my face, and I want them to see their faces reflected in me.”

We’re so happy the world is catching up to what we’ve long known: Black women are BEAUTIFUL!

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