"I am a daughter of the African soil and I am beautiful. See your face reflected in mine"Zobizini Tunzi
Congratulations to Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe 2019. Her beauty is strikingly honest, Earthly and natural. And it matters that she has won the 2019 Miss Universe crown.
Zozibini Tunzi is a force. She is bold, proud and fiercely African. She is not the first African woman to win the title, but she is the first one with natural afro hair to win any international crown, anywhere.
She wears her hair as a short natural, in a TWA (teeny weeny afro). Shaved sides, sharp and chic.
Zozibini wears makeup sometimes but not all the time. She dresses up, dresses down. And just by being herself, she encourages all of us to be ourselves.
Predictably and within minutes, the racist and colorist comments began. The criticisms of her hair, her dark skin - her Blackness was under assault. We knew it was coming. What we didn't know is how fast and how perfectly she would hit back. In a way that uplifts us, that encourages us and empowers us.
Zozibini Hits Back
"I just want to take a moment to dedicate a post to the unkind comments that I have been receiving about my blackness since my crowning. To comments that are aimed at all brown skinned girls at some point in our lives. Not because it hurts me or get under my skin, but because I see an opportunity to educate and speak out on such a serious issue. When people say hurtful, negative things about black women and black people in general, I do not quickly take offense and here's why. Society has previously programmed in such a way that there's nothing beautiful about being black. The furthest you are from being fair skinned the uglier you are. That unfortunately has been the universal standard of beauty and it is very difficult for some people to unlearn it. I am going into Miss Universe to shatter whatever misconceptions and stereotypes people have on beauty. These comments are exactly why we should keep inserting ourselves in spaces where we have been told we do not belong, and we will never make it. It is up to us to re-write the narrative. To whoever else who thinks black is not beautiful I cannot wait for you to experience the depth and magic of a black woman. I am a daughter of the African soil and I am beautiful. See your face reflected in mine."Zozibini Tunzi
Why A Natural-haired Miss Universe Matters to Us
When I was a little girl, I loved watching those women parade their beautiful gowns and hair, enjoyed the talent show segments and the swimsuit runway.
Two things all those "bathing beauties" had in common, and those were their skin color and hair type, neither of which I had. Of course there were differences, some tanned, some curly, some olive, some pale, some freckled. But the most beautiful, the ones that got the ribbons and bows, they were always white, and they never looked like me. The ones who looked like me were rarely seen and when they were, it was always second to the others.
I didn't realize it then, but these shows imprinted on my young mind what TV beauty was. And TV beauty was one of a few types of mainstream beauty that mattered. There was fairy tale beauty like Cinderella and Snow White. There was doll beauty like Barbie. Later, Superhero beauty like Xena and the supernatual beauty of Buffy and Charmed. In these shows, the evil ones were often dark skinned or Black. A reality that bothered me whenever I saw it.
So, this natural-haired Miss Universe matters to us. She has embraced her African beauty completely - from her chocolate skin to her TWA. Her acknowledgement of her struggles, her self-awareness and her honesty bring a realization to all of us. That our beauty is beauty. Our beauty should not be marginalized. We are not a FAD. We wear our hair.
Who is Zozibini Tunzi? She is all of us. And we see her.