With the crowning of Miss Jamaica Toni-Ann Singh as Miss World on Saturday, all five winners of this year’s major pageants are women of color for the first time in the contests’ history.
The 23-year-old Singh joins Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, Miss America Nia Franklin, Miss USA Cheslie Kryst and Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris, as The Washington Post noted.
All have conveyed messages of empowering women, and all are taking on prominent occupations and stances, as CNN reports. To wit: Singh will study medicine and become a doctor; Tunzi works to eliminate gender-based violence; Kryst is an attorney bent on reforming the U.S. justice system; Garris founded the disability-awareness group We Are People 1st, and Franklin is an opera singer who works with the nonprofit Sing for Hope and advocates for the arts.
Gone, millions around the world hope, are the narrow visions of what constitutes beauty.
Black women have won all five crowns over the decades, but never have all winners been black at the same time. At one point it would have been impossible, as pageants used to ban women of color from even competing, CNN noted. Some of those contests date back to the 1920s, and it is only in the past 50 years that black contestants have come more to the fore.
Like the others, Singh had a message for the girls who are finally seeing themselves reflected on the beauty stage.
“To that little girl in St. Thomas, Jamaica and all the girls around the world – please believe in yourself,” Singh wrote in a tweet after winning. “Please know that you are worthy and capable of achieving your dreams. This crown is not mine but yours. You have a PURPOSE.”
In addition to her medical aspirations, Singh is an accomplished singer, knocking judges off their feet with a rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” BBC News reported. She won more than 100 other contestants and is the fourth Jamaican winner in the pageant’s history, BBC News said.
“This feels like a dream, I’m so grateful,” she said upon her win, according to BBC News. “Whatever it is you see in me, thank you. I’m ready to get to work.”
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