Leila Lopes is the second black African woman and the fourth black woman to be crowned with the Miss Universe title. Her win dispelled cynicism about the Miss Universe pageant being racist and serving a singular “beauty standard.”
The media had predicted the pageant’s results to represent western beauty standards.
“Judges in Sao Paulo, Brazil will pick the winner of the 2011 Miss Universe Pageant Monday night, and there's a good chance that the winner will be "Western-looking." Even if that contestant is from Asia, Africa or Latin America,” said Jamie Blair in his Op Ed for the International Business Times.
Leila Lopes is a 25-year-old native of Angola. It has been 12 years since a black African was crowed title of Miss Universe. In 1999, Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana was the first black African to win. In 1977, Janelle Commissiong of Trinidad & Tobago became the first woman of African descent to be crowned.
Blair considered the purpose of the pageant in his Op –ED.
“Isn't the whole point of the Miss Universe spectacle supposed to be the celebration of diversity? The pageant has the opportunity to teach people, especially the young girls around the world, that beauty comes in all shapes and colors. Instead, when young women tune in, they will primarily see one standard of beauty,” wrote Blair in his Op Ed Monday hours before the pageant aired on NBC.
Lopes placed an emphasis on inner beauty in her interview responses during the pageant.
When asked what she would change about herself if she could, Lopes said she wouldn’t change a thing:
“Thank God I’m very satisfied with the way God created me. I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty. I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life.”
Lopes is also the first ever from home country of Angola to be crowned. She beat out 88 other competitors to win the title during the 60th anniversary of the world’s biggest beauty pageant. She replaces last year’s winner, Ximena Navarrete of Mexico.
She was asked about racism in light of the fact that she’s one of the few blacks ever crowned Miss Universe; Lopes said, “Any racist needs to seek help. It’s not normal in the 21st century to think in that way.”
Lopes won over the audience, speaking in the shared language of Portuguese. Angola, like Brazil (where the pageant was hosted) is a former Portuguese colony.