Zozibini Tunzi came as she was, and it was good enough to win the Miss Universe 2019 title. The model became the first woman in history to win the beauty pageant title rocking her natural afro-textured hair.
Tunzi represented Miss South Africa when she was crowned the winner on Sunday, December 8 at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, per People. She wowed the judges, fans, and audience with her poise and grace to take home the coveted crown. Tunzi is also the first titleholder to wear the new and impressive “Power of Unity” crown.
Tunzi became the third South African to win the competition. Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was crowned the most beautiful woman in the universe in 2017, 39 years after Margaret Gardiner was crowned in 1978.
Demi-Leigh, who was present at the event, could not contain her excitement as another South African succeeded at clinching the title. This marks the third year that a South African beauty was placed in the top three. Nel-Peters won the 2017 title, Tamaryn Green was named the first runner-up in 2018, and Zozibini Tunzi is officially Miss Universe 2019.
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Tonight a door was opened and I could not be more grateful to have been the one to have walked through it. May every little girl who witnessed this moment forever believe in the power of her dreams and may they see their faces reflected in mine. I proudly state my name Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019!
However, Tunzi’s win is also a landmark victory for women of every ethnicity. She rocked her own short, natural hair throughout the competition, the first woman in history to do so with afro-textured hair.
In fact, when Tunzi was first crowned as Miss South Africa, she sparked a hair-raising debate. This was the first time that a South African had also dared to go against the conventional standard of beauty and wear her natural afro-textured hair. Just before she took the Miss South Africa title, she let her fans know what sparked her decision to rock her own natural locks in an Instagram post.
“When I cut my hair 2 years ago, I remember looking into the mirror and feeling overwhelmed by the beauty that was staring back at me. Before going natural I was scared of not being beautiful because of the misconception I had of what beauty is, mainly because beauty was never presented to me as someone who has my kind of hair,” she wrote. “The most important lesson I learnt though was that women are not one dimensional and therefore you cannot box their beauty. We all come in different shapes, sizes and shades, with natural hair and weaves.”
The Miss Universe 2019 pageant was a three-hour affair hosted by comedian Steve Harvey and former beauty queen and actress Vanessa Lachey. Tunzi beat runner-up Miss Puerto Rico Madison Anderson and Miss Mexico Sofia Aragon, who was crowned the second princess.