Unfortunately, the Australian wildfires are still ablaze burning more than 17.9 million acres across Australia’s six states and is estimated to have killed nearly half a billion of the nation’s wildlife. This tragedy has inspired both past and current pageant queens to reach out to their following on social media to not only help raise awareness, but to also raise money for organizations working to stop the wildfires and protect the wildlife.
Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo, posted a selfie with her and a koala sharing her devastation toward the Australian wildfires, “It’s so devastating to see what the bushfires have done to the human and animal lives across this beautiful country.” Culpo went on to encourage her followers to donate to organizations like Red Cross Australia, Wires Wildlife Rescue and Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park. She then noted how her fans could make a difference, “If we all help, even a little bit, a huge impact can be made.”
Miss World Australia 2019, Sarah Marsckee, shared her heartbreak about her country to her followers by posting a current news video of the wildfires in action. She began the post with the words, “Our remarkable country is on fire and has been on fire for over two months.” Marsckee proceeded to thank not only the firefighters working to control the flames, but to people who opened up their homes, and to those who have donated funds and supplies as well. She went on and said, “My thoughts and prayers are with you all through this hard time.” Marsckee then shared with her followers links to organizations that they could donate to not only help the people effected by the wildfires, but also the Australian wildlife. The list included organizations like the Salvation Army, and RSPCA.
Miss Earth 2020, Nellys Pimental, shared a video to her followers explaining the environmental impact the wildfires have had on the country. “Rising temperatures due to climate change have aggravated damages.” Pimental then mentioned how the wildfires have hurt Australian wildlife. “The koala has officially entered the functionally extinct list of species.” The video ended with Pimental encouraging her following to take action and help in any way they can with the statement, “Nature relies on us.” Her post also included the links to donate to organizations such as Rural Fire Service and Port Macquire Koala Hospital.
Experts said the wildfires origin is of both natural and human causes. Australia has experienced the worst drought in decades, making it easy for wildfires to start. Climate change has also worsened the impact and destruction of the wildfires due to weather conditions becoming more extreme. At least 24 people were charged by the NSW police for deliberately starting bushfires. According to a police statement, the police have taken legal action against 183 people for fire related offenses. As of now over 2,000 firefighters are working on the ground in NSW alone with more support from the US, Canada, and New Zealand sending in more firefighters to help put out the flames.
No doubt the Leadership team at Miss America are scrambling right now after Miss America fans (and critics) gave the MAO front office the read of their lives on Sunday after someone on their social media team shared an article from The List, The Untold Truth of Miss America 2020 Winner Camille Schrier.
In the article, the writer Blaire Erskine called the MAO system sketchy and posted a hyperlink to another article on it’s site Sketchy Things Everyone Just Ignores About Miss America written by another writer Shira Danan. The Sketchy Things article, dated during the Sam Haskell era, talks about the system’s racist history of banning women of African descent from competing, organizers telling Miss America 1945 Beth Meyerson (a daughter of Russian and Jewish immigrants) to change her last name to sound less Jewish, Vanessa Williams’ saga and a handful of other negative press MAO endured over their storied history.
In the now-deleted article shared on the MAO official Facebook page, Erskine takes statements from Schrier’s interviews with the BBC, her social media captions, the Miss Virginia website, a handful of other media outlets including VCU News, the school paper for Virginia Commonwealth University, the school Schrier is currently studying at for her doctorate in pharmacy and twists her words around to sound as if Miss America is bashing her 2.0 systems’ former life during the 1.0 time.
The article claims Schrier was not even interested in competing for the title under it’s traditional categories and format. She’s also quoted as saying she does not see Miss America as a beauty pageant anymore.
The comment section exploded with people immediately criticizing the MAO social media handlers for sharing an article that arguably does not put them in a positive light. Many people, still scorned at the way the competition was held last month, expressed their utter done-ness with Miss America 2.0. Some felt by MAO sharing this article, it’s the organization’s way of slapping the previous titleholders crowned under 1.0 in the faces and doing an about face heading into a 2.0 tragedy right before it’s 100th year anniversary.
Other comments came at the definition of who is a scientist/biochemist considering Camille is still in school, while others said crowning a scientist is no new feat in the pageant world and her talent was “an elementary school level” demonstration. Some people even went as far as saying her “unusual” talent should not be a media talking point when many contestants train years for their artistic displays i.e. dancing, baton twirling, piano etc.
The overall theme of the fans were how disappointed they are in MAO’s PR department sharing an article of this nature in the first place with many people questioning the organization’s motives to share media which condescends the pageant’s barely-recent 1.0 past and the dismissal of the contestants who competed before Gretchen took the helms.
However their PR team seemed to have scrolled through the comments and jumped on deleting the shared article off their Facebook page. Now to see if they are going to release a statement about the fuss made or sweep this little incident under the rug. Time will tell.
Candiace Dillard Bassett, Miss United States 2013 and current castmate on BRAVO’s Real Housewives of Potomac just had her song played across radio stations in the DMV metro area. The beauty queen-turned-reality TV star is now attempting to collect another bag in the music industry.
This isn’t Bassett’s first time having her music on public display. During her second season on RHOP, she sang her original song “I See You” for Chris during their wedding episode filmed for BRAVO at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington D.C. The single later launched on all digital streaming platforms back in May 2019. She also has songwriting credits on the ballard.
When this song, a go-go style remix to “I See You“, dropped on the radio on Saturday, the CEO behind Peace, Love, Pageantry, a pageantry consulting firm, was in her car and posted the special moment to her 118,000 Instagram followers giving thanks to DJ Iran for the radio play.
Check out her 4-part reaction below:
Bassett is on season 5 of the Real Housewives of Potomac currently in production with expectations of a Spring 2020 premiere.
I don’t know if the $5M crown was bobby pinned all the way down on Queen Zozibini before the great-as-expected social media frenzy kicked off like a starter gun in a 100 meter dash featuring Usain Bolt. People all over were trying to hide their inner racism by questioning why so many Black people, mainly women, were so excited to see a contestant like South Africa “finally” get crowned.
Without shedding light on too much of their commentary, some of the comments spoke about how we should look past skin color and admire her for her answers instead during the competition. Others said Zozibini’s look is more in line with IMG’s “brand” i.e. the increase in women of color being crowned since they took over the organization’s management in 2015. Other trolls question the “rally cry” Black Girl Magic and stated it was taking steps backwards from Martin Luther King Jr’s work to integrate among each other.
While no one is wrong in genuinely looking to gain more insight into a Black woman’s mind, especially those of a darker complexion, to understand the even more complex background of what is consider beautiful in both the Black culture and in the white world. However, some of these VERY same people are the ones imprinting into young children’s mind what their typical ideal standard of beauty looks like and for a long period of time it was not how our current Miss Universe looks.
From the dawn of time, Black women have been competing against a European idea of beauty. Straight hair, slim nose, fair or lighter skin; in pretty much every culture with darker skin people,women are subconsciously taught lighter skin is better and prettier. This leads to the infamous skin bleaching we’ve seen with some celebs.
Times that with a particular hair curl also being discriminated against from your very own mother for years until you took ownership of your scalp around the same time you signed up for your first credit card. Times this again by entering a beauty pageant dominated by blondes with blue eyes winning for decades before they even ALLOWED a women of African descent to compete in their system. Enter infamous Rule #7.
Watching our new Miss Universe grace the stage so elegantly and speaking up for young girls’ leadership, education and self-perception is a significant and historic barrier that’s long been waiting to be broken. It took Deshauna Barber’s final walk in her full 4c afro glory for Zozibini to run Sunday night. (And probably the all-female selection committee) Kara giving us her bountiful hair full of curls made us change the way we see scientists and Cheslie is doing the same in the courtroom.
Black women have been slowly integrating the pageant systems with our true authentic self and some of the features are becoming more accepted, like the all-curly hair and fros we’ve been seeing lately. Several Black women would simply get overlooked in any pageant system wearing their tighter kinks or afros and being labeled “too black” for what is often a non-diverse judging panel. It’s a common coaching tip to minimize your Blackness in several ways to appeal more to the white judges:
wear white. Red is too dramatic and shows you are too commanding, intimidating, too much dare I say, aggressive. Pull your hair up in a bun or half-updo and away from your face. This shows the judges your face more and hides your hair. Or opt to wear a straight long weave, frankly, the easiest option for a week long competition away from home for quick maintenance. All of the past Black Miss Universes won with straight hair. Chelsea’s was big and high in a more Afrocentric way. However, everyone’s hair was high and close to God back then.
On Sunday, a woman wearing her naturally tightly coiled 4c hair had a $5M dollar crown placed on her head in front of 3.8 million people live on television and the world was calling her the universe’s most beautiful person.
Can you imagine how powerful that moment is for a 13-year-old girl who was just bullied for having that very same skin complexion? Or for the thousands of Black pageants contestants who try year after year to compete in the same system that has no former titleholders who look like them. Texas just crowned their first Black women in the Miss America system. A system founded in 1921, 98 years ago.
With her natural hair, shea butter whipped brown skin and public speaking skills in line with other women leaders of our generation, Zozibini displayed love for her culture all during the competition. She wore tradition African prints and spoke boldly about women’s right to education especially since the apartheid ended in South Africa. Typically, this would have been told to lessen down because it’s “too black” but on Sunday like she said, “that ends tonight.”
Sidenote: I spoke more about how, during this time of silent discrimination against women of color, Black pageants rose in popularity.
Unfortunately, they are several horror stories from contestants, including myself, about our experiences competing in these systems. Despite the negative press, sometimes these systems made for us, by us is a woman’s only true shot at becoming a national titleholder.
It automatically evens the playing field and eliminates the bias of racial beauty while becoming an inclusive environment for like-minded Black women on the same mission to do good philanthropy, invest in their education and compete for a crown. Very few other clubs/hobbies/church groups have driven women in them who understand your desire to drop $800 on a new couture gown instead of paying your rent. Many of my adult friendships are from competing in pageants open to women of African descent.
I spoke more about this cognitive dissonance dilemma among Black contestants on the Pageants & Prosecco Podcast.
YAY!!! Like many people of color, watching South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi compete all night was a breath of fresh air as she easily graced the stage and dominated each question and phase of competition that came her way. With this historic win, Tunzi is the third South African to take the crown since Demi Leigh-Nel Peters. She is also the first Black woman to win the award since Leila Lopes in 2011.
During the 2019 Miss Universe pageant, Tunzi spoke on the importance of education and how her grandmother gave her her first book even though her grandmother was not allowed to receive an education. She also used her platform Sunday night to talk about what holding the crown would mean for those looking up to her during her reign.
During her final onstage question she spoke on the importance young girls taking up space and to hold more leadership positions.
“I think we are the most powerful human beings in the world.” – Tunzi
One of the world’s most glamorous nights is upon us, the Miss Universe 2019 pageant. Or is this considered a competition now too? Nonetheless as we sit back, turn the volumes up on FOX and await our newest Queen to be $5 million crowned, what would be a true pageant event without a glass of wine or two, or three. Here is our list of the top wines to drink and when to enjoy it during each phase of competition. Happy sipping!
PreGame ahead of the telecast:
Prosecco – a light bubbly Italian sparkling wine. Miss Universe is here once again! It’s a time to celebrate. Catriona served beautifully all year and now it’s time to see if the Philippine-Dynasty continues with Gazini Ganados or will Miss Thailand Paweensuda Drounin help them see another consecutive Top 10 placement? Or will India get their chance to break into the Top 20? Will South Africa prove supreme Queen once again and regain the throne?? Let’s pop open a Prosecco and get ready for the show!
When the Top 20 are called:
Pinot Grigio: This light white wine is perfect for when the semi-finalists are announced. The crispness of the taste of apricots and peaches allows us to relax as we cringely watch the women get called based of their regions. (Who else is against this idea?) But as the Wild Cards are announced, pouring more as we anticipate if our pick is going to make it in or not is never a bad idea. Who’s judging?
Moscasto D’Asti: Arguably, this is just about everyone’s favorite phase of competition from pageant fans to competitive crown chasers, so it’s no wonder pouring up a glass of Moscasto D’Asti is a perfect guilt-free way to drink something sweet as we consider if we should renew those gym memberships. Asti’s come with a little bit of frizzante and are typically sweeter than your regular Moscatos.
Top 10 Announcement
Cabernet Sauvignon – depending on which countries are called, we may need to go heavy and get into our reds as the competition turns up the heat. As in true IMG fashion, there will be more than 3 or 4 surprise contestants getting their chance at the Power of Unity crown who otherwise might not have. So sipping on something heavier and full-bodied will help as we adopt another country as ours or clutch our pearls at the show’s production. Either way, a Cab is going to carry all of our emotions rollercoaster as the competition becomes fierce, in our Tyra voice.
Chardonnay: A good buttery one is always going to be my choice. Chardonnay is a good option because it may match this year’s color theme of metallic gold and silver we will more than likely see on the runway. The darker in color your Chard, the longer it aged in oak resulting in a creamy, butter, mellow taste as the women slowly float their way down the runway. (I wouldn’t be mad if you brought this back out during the Final Look).
Top 5 Announcement and Onstage Questions:
Beaujolais Nouveau: This is the season for a nice Beaujolais, it’s one of the first wines to make it’s debut shortly after the grapes are harvested. It’s a young wine that doesn’t require aging like most other reds so it comes with a fruitier taste with just the right amount of elegance as we admire this year’s new class of women who advanced to the Top 5. Their image will go down in history and with a new 2019 Beaujolais Nouveau in your glass it’s the best concoction to welcoming our soon to be queen as we watch the Top 5 during the year.
Top 3 Final Look: See Evening Gown’s wine choice
Miss Universe Crowning!!
PROSECCO! Saving the best for last! As the new Miss Universe is crowed in her $5M Mouawad Crown we’ve come full circle in our wine journey together. Prosecco is Italy’s version of Champagne so depending on your budget, popping open a bottle of your finest Champagne is the move if your contestant made it all the way. Congrats to you!
(If your country was robbed this year, opt for going back to your Cabernet Sauvignon for the rest of the night)