Why Zozibini Tunzi’s Miss Universe 2019 win is important

In case you missed it, the new Miss Universe is Zozibini Tunzi from South Africa. The 26-year-old public relations graduate won the hearts of judges and fans with her winning answer on giving women and young girls the space to lead.

Zozibini’s win has been considered as important by many. There are those who celebrated the diversity she brought to the Miss Universe stage, as well as how she’s changing the game with her empowering words.

Here’s what viewers have said about the new Miss Universe queen:

Breaking stereotypes

Last November, Zozibini did an interview with Eyewitness News about the cyberbullying and colorism she experienced after winning Miss South Africa 2019. But she says that the comments didn’t dampen her spirits: “It was crazy at first. Colorism and racism is a real thing going into the competition—I knew I would shake the table. I knew I would be the unconventional Miss South Africa to have won because no one has ever won with their hair or whatever, looking like I do.”

Fast forward to today, netizens are happy that an empowered woman who’s not ashamed of her natural kinky hair and culture was crowned Miss Universe 2019.


Many South Africans also celebrated Zozibini’s win, calling it a win for all the ethnic groups in the country who are now represented thanks to her.


According to Zozibini’s Miss Universe bio, her social media campaign focused on “changing the narrative around gender stereotypes. She is a proud advocate for natural beauty and encourages women to love themselves the way they are.” This is why her Q&A response focused on giving women and young girls more leadership roles.

“It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time. Not because we don’t want to, but because of how society has labeled us to be,” said Zozibini. “I think we are the most powerful beings in the world and that we should be given every opportunity. We should be teaching these young girls to take up space. Nothing is more important than taking up space in the society.”

Brains, not just beauty

Beauty pageants are notorious for simply showcasing a woman’s physical beauty, putting them in a position to be objectified and judged when their looks don’t pass society’s standards. As Zozibini mentioned in her Eyewitness News interview, she was constantly judged for having dark skin and not passing Eurocentric standards.

Filipina vlogger Gigi Esguerra said it best: “It’s really all about the advocacy, elegance, and eloquence of the contestant… Beauty can no longer take you further in the competition. You need brains too.”

Winning the decade

Did you know that South Africa and the Philippines both have two Miss Universe wins in this decade? The former got crowns in 2017 (Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters) and 2019 (Zozibini Tunzi), the latter in 2015 (Pia Wurtzbach) and 2018 (Catriona Gray).


Congratulations again to Zozibini! May she have a meaningful reign and use her platform to empower women worldwide.


Photo by Benjamin Askinas via Miss Universe’s Instagram account

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