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What do black models think about the new Miss Universe?

The victory of the South African Zozibini Tunzi in the dispute for the 68th edition of the Miss Universe stirred up the debate on representation and self-esteem, especially of black women, on social networks.

Conquest by the South African Zozibini Tunzi moved social networks and the debate on representation among the Brazilian black community; Alma Preta heard two black models about the result of the contest

After winning the tournament held in Atlanta (USA), on Sunday night (8), Zozibini Tunzi criticized the standards of beauty in society and pointed to the importance of achievement for the self-esteem of the black community.

“I grew up in a world where a woman with my skin, my looks and my hair wasn’t considered pretty. This ends today! I want kids to see their faces reflect on mine,” she says.

Suellen Massena has a family of models and works for Hutu, an exclusive black casting agency. In an interview with Alma Preta, she highlighted the achievement of Tunzi.

“I was very happy, very happy. I can’t add dimension to it. She is echoing our voice saying to many others who cannot have people close, aware, that we are also beautiful, intelligent and can also reach prominent places, not just the space that white people determine that we occupy. We manage to go much further and have the potential for that”, she says.

Zozibini Tunzi is the first black woman to win the contest since 2011, when Angolan Leila Lopes won the trump card. The South African beat 89 other competitors and saw her professional companions Madison Anderson, from Puerto Rico, and Sofía Aragón, from Mexico, in second and third place respectively.


Daniela Izabel, model at the Silvia agency, producer with casting of models from the periphery, and a student in Social Sciences, questions the existence of contests like the one for Miss Universe.

“What I think about this subject is a criticism about why and for what a beauty contest in the middle of 2019. [It’s] the turn of the decade and we are still concerned about judging or bringing some concept of specific beauty”, she criticizes .

The existing judgments during a beauty contest and the racial selectivity existing in Brazil kept the Suellen model away from competitions like this during her life.

“I was never connected to beauty pageants, I always hated it for obvious reasons. My beauty was never a standard. I was never considered beautiful. People with the same features as mine were never considered beautiful, with the same skin tone, hair type… That was not the standard of beauty”, she recalls.
“More important than this representation that it brings, is what it has, what it actually is. She is a black woman, inky, and has her curly hair in a low cut, with expressive features, that is South African. She brings a lot of information with her, and when she wins, she still wins by putting a whole political discourse at stake, talking about racism, about all the black women in her life, who don’t see each other”, says Daniela Izabel.

Despite criticism of competitions like these, both models recognize the importance of Zozibini Tunzi’s Miss Universe victory.

Suellen prefers to highlight the importance that an achievement like this can have in strengthening the self-esteem of black people. For her, this is a fundamental factor in changing social dynamics.

“If we are aware of what we are, no one will say what we are or are not. I believe that the movement has happened from another perspective, we have been doing our homework, [has] focused on our discovery, we are increasingly focused on ourselves and we are teaching those close to us to also turn to themselves . We have been empowering our people to fill these places that are also ours”, she says.

Daniela, however, points out the limitations of the achievement and believes that other demands and attention are needed.

“We know that the structures still need to be balanced. We know that it’s not just the face that has to be printed in black. We know that within any structure, in the off part, there must be black people doing it”, she ponders.


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