New Age Pageant Queens or a Strategy to Cope with Declining Viewership?
2019 witnessed one of the most historic year for pageantry as winners of the most reputed national and international pageants crowned black women as the winners. This all started in September 2018, when Miss America Organization crowned a black woman from North Carolina named Nia Franklin, marking the beginning of a pioneering 2019 pageant circuit for black ladies. This was later followed by the crowning of Miss Teen USA 2019, Kaliegh Garris who was later joined by Miss USA 2019, Cheslie Kryst. The significance of the Black Girl Reign in the year took over the internet drastically when Zozibini Tunzi from South Africa was crowned as Miss Universe 2019 in the first week of December. Very soon, Miss World Organization as well made a vital move when it decided to crown a black woman, Toni Ann Singh from Jamaica as Miss World 2019.
Now this does calls out for a celebration but let us ponder on the question that crowning all black ladies in the prominent national and international pageants is just a coincidence or a strategy to expand the popularity of the pageants worldwide. It is a universally acknowledged fact that many feminists have often criticized and even questioned the existence of beauty pageants, blaming them to demean and commodify women with respect to their physical appearance. We are currently living in an era where these pageants have time and again moved beyond its accepted notion of beauty and has welcomed women from different ethnicities, gender preferences and culture, however when it comes to the main titleholder, the winner usually is clad in the much accepted standards of beauty and fashion.
Now let us go back to September 2018 when Nia Franklin was crowned as Miss America 2019. Soon after she won the title of Miss America, the social media went crazy appreciating the shifting beauty standards calling Nia a pioneer of new age beauty queens. And this did pioneer a new trend of black women winning many pageants in the days to come. But were those victories merely a coincidence falling in succession or was it a strategically planned move by the respective Organizations to fathom the trending popularity? It is interesting to note the fact that in its 92 editions, Nia Franklin is only the ninth woman to be crowned as a black Miss America, while in its 68 editions Zozibini Tunzi is only the sixth black woman to be crowned as Miss Universe. Pageant after pageant, whenever a black lady won any pageant, the social media went gaga over the change, whereby Miss World was the last pageant to close the season.
Seeing Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey congratulating Zozibini Tunzi, certainly alleviated the already popular Miss Universe pageant in terms of fame. Now coming to the Miss World 2019 pageant, while many people were rooting for India or France for the Miss World crown, Jamaica came in to competition all of a sudden and won it all with her terrific answer. Now we may claim she had the best answer in the final question and answer round, but we have seen many great spokeswomen in the final round who could not win the main title, considering the overall performance in the pageant. Hence, saying it is merely a coincidence would be inane. It could hence be said that Miss World was trying to share the similar popularity at social media which was achieved by its counterpart, Miss Universe Organization a week ago.
Although, pageants have recently sought to put more emphasis on the offstage lives of their contestants, highlighting their accomplishments and charity work instead of only their physical appearances, it is to be pondered that these historic wins come at a time in which the industry is struggling to modernize amid declining viewership. Do you believe the black girl magic of 2019 a coincidence or a strategy to gain worldwide popularity? Do let us know in the comment section!