• Cara-Lee Compton

Zozibini: A win for us all

With the crowning of Zozibini Tunzi as Miss SA earlier this year, I said "this girl is Miss Universe material", without even realising the levels this young lady would go to. In my opinion, this is about as profound as winning the Rugby World Cup, and this is why...

Zozibini Tunzi, Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Zozi is the first black South African to claim this title and the third South African in total to win Miss Universe. Since her crowning there has been much focus on the 'black' part - both in a positive and negative way. I would like to ponder on this for a moment. In her final speech Zozi said the following: “I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful, and I think it is time that that stops – today". Now obviously, a lot of people, mostly those who are NOT black or even South African and would not understand this statement, got on their high horses and made some comments that had my blood boiling. I even considered taking a week to reply to each of these intelligent beings, then again, any person who attacks another on social media does not deserve ANY kind of attention. Moving on, this statement touched me on another level, even sitting here in my privileged white skin (I know privilege is a heavily contested term, but I will do a blog on it some time to try and explain how I perceive it).

To explain my previous statement, what Tunzi said touched me because even though I might have been closer to the traditional definition of 'beauty', I have also fallen far outside this definition. "Too buff, too athletic, too strong, not blonde enough, not skinny enough, not blue-eyed enough, skin not clear and hair too short". I have looked in the mirror many times thinking of all the ways I am inadequate of being beautiful. After Zozi's crowning, for the first time in a long while, I looked in the mirror and saw a different kind of beauty. One that says 'capable, strong and fierce'. You see, unfortunately society has constructed a perfect woman, and if this picture does not reflect in the mirror, we shy away, we eat less and we work harder on ourselves, even though the reality is that we will never fit the bill.

Zozi changed this. She addressed this issue, called it what it is, won this prestigious event and with her dark skin and natural hair, she changed what the criteria of 'beautiful' is. Getting back to the comments of the uninformed social media trolls, many claimed that what she said was unfounded because 'Beyonce and Alicia Keys have been considered to be beautiful for years'. Americans truly have a way of perpetuating the intelligence of their president. Zozi is not the same as Beyonce, in fact she is in a class of her own in my opinion, but that's besides the point. If you've EVER been in SA, you would understand this statement - it's sad but true - but as of 9 December 2019, every single little girl in SA and worldwide knows that they are beautiful, and most beautiful at that by just being themselves.

“I want all little girls to see their face reflected in mine", said Zozi at a press conference. Well Miss Universe, this one goes out to you, you did it! You changed the way people see 'beauty', perhaps not all people, but you made a lasting impact. You changed the way THIS girl sees herself. Everytime I look at you I know that I can be any kind of beautiful I want, and that it will be sufficient. You also proved that SA has the MOST beautiful, warm and gracious women, with a great sense of humour. Thank you for the message you are carrying and for changing the path for so many to come. We honour you for that and cannot wait to see how you keep smashing those stigmas!