Watching Miss Universe pageants since I was practically 5 years old is a HUGE reason why I dedicated so much love into this article. Miss Universe celebrates the power of femininity in so many ways – in ways that I think make us powerful human beings. Being an intellectual, a self-less friend, peace giver and a health advocate are only a few things a Miss Universe contestant must enlighten their voters and the judges.
Sunday night, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters from South Africa was reigned Miss Universe. After Steve Harvey, this year’s host had announced South Africa would be crowned, Demi-Leigh raised her hands in disbelief and I could only imagine the emotions she was going through! What a magical moment to be sharing the stage with 91 other women from all over the world and wear the crown being placed by last years Miss Universe 2016 from France, Iris Mittenaere.
At the young age of 22, Demi-Leigh has been advocating for self defense. During the pageant, she shared her story of being robbed at gun point and how it ultimately changed her life. With the title of Miss Universe, Demi-Leigh wishes to start ‘Unbreakable’, a campaign consisting of experts teaching self defense and confidence-boosting for women around South Africa. Knowing your value and how no one can walk all over you was the premise of her motto on stage.
“It’s okay not to have a perfect life, and it’s okay to have emotions, and have feelings. If we are able to express our feelings more and share them with others, it’s so much easier to work through when you know there are people holding your hands and walking through this with you,” Demi-Leigh reassures.
Back home in South Africa, this is MAJOR news. Demi-Leigh is the second Miss South Africa to win the Miss Universe crown since 1978. Aside from taking her modeling to the next level, she recently earned her degree from South Africa’s North Western University in Business Management. She urges women to understand how life is filled with hills and obstacles to overcome, but the humbling moment to look back and see all that you’ve done makes everything worth while.
During the question portion of the pageant, Demi-Leigh expressed her passion for equality and her hopes for a better future all around the world. “I want woman to be treated as equals in every part of the world. We are making great strides but there is still so much to be done.” She speaks on the wage gap in South Africa, women empowerment and self-defense.
Can we talk about her gown for the final round?! A sleek, fitting tan dress with accents of sparkles to illuminate her olive skin. This dress was killer when she strutted down the walkway with some classic, ankle-wrapping silver heels. She let her curves take control as she wrapped her hair in a braided bun to extenuate her highlights – the color scheme fit to a 10!
You know we can’t skip the bathing suit round – a bright, yellow bikini to bring a smile on everyones’ face. Working hard for your body isn’t something to be ashamed of and we should all be proud and welcomed to show it off; A few contestants stated prior as a result for the backlash on the ‘bikini round’. This certain round in the pageant isn’t for men to critique their bodies or for anyone else really, it’s to celebrate the female body and all the healthy measurements we take to stay beautiful and fit. But would you look at those heels? Any girl who can strut in those is a winner to me!
So what exactly does a Miss Universe win for her time wearing the crown? According to their contest rules if a contestant is able to fulfill her duties, she will be given a year-long salary to spread advocacy of her choice, a luxury apartment in New York City, client representation in management agency WME IMG and my favorite part, access to all the premieres, fashion shows and even some opportunities to apply for acting roles.
Currently, Demi-Leigh is undergoing her ‘media week’ as the newly crowned Miss Universe. She will be attending conferences and press releases to unveil her plans for the upcoming year and what she hopes to accomplish back at home and all around the world for women.
A true princess! I can’t wait to see where she’ll take her platform and the advocacy she has in store for empowerment. xo
Comment below if you’d like updates of her work during her time as Miss Universe!