My first article for Critical Beauty. Thank you so much, Rafa Delfin! Hope you guys love this one. Kisses! (The original link)
The Return of Black Beauties?
by Donald Nguyen
TEN YEARS AGO when Miss Universe was held in a former British colony in the Caribbean for a very first time, the results were unbelievable and unforgettable for many fans: the first black African to win the crown and the first set of "black-to-black" winners. That year also showed a strong liking for black delegates, being the first time ever to have three African countries of the ten semifinalists. Also, four of the ten semifinalists were black beauties (Botswana, Ghana, Jamaica, Venezuela). So far, it seems that 1999 was the strongest year for black or African beauties in Miss Universe history.
Since then, there were only two more - actually one and a half - black girls in the top five of Miss Universe: Danielle Jones (Trinidad & Tobago - 2004) and Rachel Smith (USA - 2007); both were 4th runner-up. This year's pageant is held in the Bahamas - a predominantly black country that shares similar traits with Trinidad & Tobago. Many people have been asking, "Will it happen again?" It's possible and I think it's time for a new universal queen of black or African descent. Let's see which girls could make it.
Let's begin with current biggest favorite Ada Aimée de la Cruz from the Dominican Republic. She is definitely one of the perfect girls: a towering height, curvaceous body, great catwalk skills, and intelligence. There are some people who don't like her because they think she looks a little bit old with a forced smile, but I disagree. I think she looks fierce in most of her photos, and her smile is so cute and warm. I appreciate her confidence and Ada is a strong girl, an energetic person who will never give up her dreams in advancing in life. Ada was one of the biggest favorites for Miss World title back in 2007, along with Zhang Zi Lin of China, but she only made it as a semifinalist. She reminds us of Vanessa Mendoza, Miss Colombia at Miss Universe 2002. Ada's whole family grew up poor and her grandmother was a maid. In addition, Ada is the second black woman to represent her country at Miss Universe (the first one was Ruth Ocumárez in 2002). I hope Ada won't be a failure like Vanessa or Ruth and could win this time. It would be a happy ending for this beautiful pageant veteran.
Get across Mona Passage, and welcome to "La Isla del Encanto" - Puerto Rico. Although her detractors say that she is too thin, her face is a crossover between Crystle Stewart's (one of my favorite Miss USAs this decade) and Renata Soñé's (Miss Dominican Republic Universe 2005). Nearly everyone would agree that she is a catwalk diva; she burns the stage with her every walk. It is rumoured that Miss Universe 2006 from Puerto Rico Zuleyka Rivera could be in the panel of judges - which means that Mayra could get her compatriot's vote and find herself in the top five. Buena suerte, Mayra! And let's not forget two other Caribbean beauties: the very fierce Miss Curaçao Angenie Simon and Jamaican pageant veteran Carolyn Yapp. These two "Blasian" girls could pull up a surprise, along with smart and confident home girl, Kiara Sherman, Miss Bahamas.
From sunny Caribbean, let's travel to Europe. All five representatives of continental Western Europe this year are stunning mixed-race girls. During the pre-arrival period, I used to think that this region had the weakest set of delegates, but after seeing them arrive in the Bahamas, my opinion of them changed. Now I appreciate all of them, though I must say that my favorites are Miss Netherlands and Miss France.
When Chloé Mortaud won Miss France 2009, many people were shocked and thought that Chloé was not elegant, beautiful and glamorous enough to represent France in any international beauty pageant. Oh dear! I was one of those people. But when Chloé became the first contestant to set foot in Nassau, what sight to behold! She is really gorgeous and much more beautiful in person. And after having watched her interview and her message-to-home video clips, I fell in love with her. I love her bubbly personality, she's so emotional, natural and funny. Yes, Chloé is my dreamgirl like Dayana Mendoza was last year. Sonia Rolland was the first and the only "coloured" Miss France and she was a top ten semifinalist in Miss Universe 2000 held in Cyprus. How I wish that Chloé could match Sonia's feat! Or better, win and bring the Miss Universe crown back to France after 56 years. Vive la France!
Miss Switzerland Whitney Toyloy is also a considerable contender. Imagine if she wins Miss Universe, her face could be on the cover of every packet of Swiss Miss hot chocolate! Now calling Zsuzsa Budai, Miss Hungary, who is half-Jamaican. Zsuzsa has been an early favorite due to her fresh, wild and very sexy look, but I am afraid she may not make the cut. It's just my gut feeling. But then again I could be wrong. She might be the third Hungarian to make the cut in three years. Remember Adrienn Bende (2006) and Jázmin Dammak (2008)?
The next stop is South Africa, represented by Tatum Keshwar a sophisticated, fresh and natural beauty, yet sometimes she appears harsh or scary. But I think Tatum is really stunning and definitely the best in Africa. Her multiracial background consisting of African, European and Indian is very cool; imagine that she is a cup of cappuccino with thick foam and sprinkled with cinnamon. I love the grace and elegance that she projects in every photo of hers, and I admire her fierceness and strong confidence. And remember, South Africa is next year's host nation of FIFA World Cup, so it would matter a big deal for the Miss Universe Organization if they crowned her. She rocks!
The second African contender I want to mention is Miss Ethiopia, Melat Yante. She disappointed me with her pre-arrival candid photos, but recently, she has been looking stunning and lovely. She reminds me of Micaela Reis (Miss Angola 2007), but of course, Melat is slimmer. Melat is very photogenic, very charming and cute in her video clips. Don't forget that she is the current winner of Ethiopia's Next Top Model. I hope she could do better than Dina Fekadu three years ago.
So the question is, "Will black beauties be back?" Will a beauty of African descent be crowned the new Miss Universe? We will know the answer on August 23rd. All the best wishes to the girls!