Why this year’s Miss Universe matters

The Miss Universe pageant has always been a favorite of Filipinos. As long as there’s a Filipino candidate, you’re sure to have Filipinos everywhere scrambling and supporting them 100 percent. Pia Wurtzbach bringing home the crown in 2016 prompted the attention back to the Philippines and as a result, petitioned for this year’s pageant to be held here.

Pageants typically showcase the most beautiful women all over the world. Study shows that the weight and height limitations in the pageant have gotten stricter and more demanding. Although there’s nothing wrong with these, such standards only consist of a certain percentage of women. With the global audience that the Miss Universe gets, it can be quite problematic when they only represent certain standards of beauty. As great as it is to watch the show, it can become a struggle to connect with it. But this year, the presence of Ashley Graham and Bretman Rock is going to change things.

Ashley Graham, this year’s backstage host, is a model and body activist that has gotten attention after she graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. Her constant push for self-love and acceptance, as heard in her 2015 TED Talk, has gotten people to notice her. Bretman Rock who is hosting the red carpet at the pageant is an openly gay Filipino YouTuber and Instagram personality. He grew up in Hawaii and recently came back home to start a career in show business. With the inclusion of the two in this year’s Miss Universe, we see a more diverse representation in the pageant.

While both personalities are technically not in the pageant, their presence in the show means a lot. This can inspire who feel like they don’t belong or aren’t good enough for society’s beauty standards. After all, they are part of a beauty pageant. Identifying with someone we see mainstream media already changes how we view things. It does volumes when it comes to self-acceptance.

As much as having the two on board the pageant is a step in the right direction, it isn’t enough. We need to continue fighting for everyone to be allowed to join and given an equal opportunity. Plus-size women and transgender women have never made it to the finals yet. Once a wider range of people are given the opportunity to be represented in major events like these, more will feel welcome and accepted. Hopefully, this is only the beginning for a bigger and better Miss U. And honestly, we’re here for it.


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