Miss Universe 2023 continues to defy the standards as it sets its focus on championing inclusivity, diversity, and representation in the competition
It is often believed that beauty and brains are the paradigms of a traditional pageantry culture. But it appears that a new era is afoot and bound to change the scene forever. Enter: Miss Universe 2023. The ever-popular competition continues to lead the big shift as it showcases authenticity, leadership, and advocacy. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip made history as she welcomed a more diverse and inclusive roster of candidates—one significant move that heralded the pageant its rightful title as the greatest celebration of women.
The pageant is no longer perceived as just another beauty contest anymore. In fact, it has evolved into an inspiring and empowering platform that fans can connect with. Miss Universe 2023 emphasized that a candidate’s ability shouldn’t be defined by age, weight, sexual orientation, status, or gender identity. At the end of the day, it all relies upon one’s intention, determination, and passion for the competition. Below are candidates who are changing the narrative in pageantry.
Miss Colombia Camila Avella
Camila Avella is also among the candidates who strive to defy the pageant standards. As for her take? Proving that motherhood is not a limitation to fulfilling your destiny. “I would like to end the day, thanking the two people who prepared me to be Miss Universe Colombia—my daughter and my husband,” she expressed in a post after winning her title. “Without them, and without the teachings that each one leaves me everyday, none of this would be possible, nor would I be the woman I am today.”
Miss Guatemala Michelle Cohn
Michelle Cohn might have been known as a model and entrepreneur. But she made a mark the time she was announced as the first married woman and mother to be crowned Miss Universe Guatemala. “The universe gave me a chance, and here I am taking it wholeheartedly and eagerly,” she wrote in a post. “A little over a year ago, I would have thought this was impossible. And today I am here looking to be the first mother to represent Guatemala to the universe. Here I am today, once again proving what we as women can accomplish.”
Miss Nepal Jane Garrett
With body positivity and women’s hormonal health at the frontier of her advocacy, it comes as no surprise as to why the candidate is among the crowd favorites. “Well, as a woman who is curvy and who does not meet certain beauty standards, I’m here to represent women who are curvy, who struggle with weight gain and hormonal issues,” she expressed in an interview. “I believe that there is not only one type of beauty standard but every single woman is beautiful just as she is.”
Miss Netherlands Rikkie Kollé
Rikkie Kollé made history as one of the two openly transgender candidates in this year’s prestigious competition—a moment that means a lot to the community around the world. “Yes, I am a trans woman and I would like to share my story. But I am also Rikkie and that is what matters to me. I did this on my own strength and enjoyed every moment,” she said. “And wherever you are in the world, I want to be there for you and be the example that I missed as a little me.”
Miss Pakistan Erica Robin
Erica Robin impressively made two pageant histories ahead of the coronation night. In October 2023, Robin was crowned as the first-ever Miss Universe Pakistan—a memorable win as she also became the first one to represent her country on the main stage. She also fronted the headlines as she opted to wear a burkini in the pageant’s swimsuit competition, paying homage to and respect for her culture.
Miss Portugal Marina Machete
Marina Machete, a flight attendant by profession, is also proud to represent the transgender community in the competition. “Proud to be the first trans woman to compete for the title of Miss Universe Portugal,” she wrote in a post. “For years it was not possible for me to participate. But today I am proud to be part of this incredible group of finalists.” That is to say, her heartfelt message speaks volumes as to why inclusivity and representation matter in the competition.
Featured Image: ERICA ROBIN (via Instagram)