The Miss Universe 2023 pageant found its winner in Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua. This is the first time a contestant from Nicaragua has won the prestigious contest. The 72nd edition of the Miss Universe pageant also garnered attention and praise for its attempts to promote diversity and representation. Significantly, the global competition included two transgender women, two mothers, and a plus-size, marking a groundbreaking moment in beauty pageant history.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these distinctive contestants:
1. Miss Netherlands Rikkie Kollé: The 22-year-old model and LGBTQIA+ rights activist made history as the first trans woman to represent her country in the competition. Following her entry into the pageant, she shared a picture on Instagram with the caption, “Met wonderful people with different stories. How proud I am that I have made the rainbow family visible. I feel the support from so many of you. I have already shared my story and hope I can continue this. I am not only standing here for myself but for all those little Rikkies with dreams and desires. I will always stand strong for those rights as well.”
2. Miss Portugal Marina Machete: The 23-year-old flight attendant, crowned as Miss Portugal in October, shared a heartfelt note attached to her Instagram video. She wrote, “For many years the dream of echoing my nation’s name across the universe seemed impossible, this year it proved to be my destiny and now I’m taking the Portuguese people’s hopes and dreams with me to El Salvador!”
3. Miss Guatemala Michelle Cohn: This mother of two broke barriers by participating in Miss Universe. Sharing a picture from the swimsuit round on Instagram, she expressed her gratitude, saying, “THANK YOU GUATEMALA for allowing me to be your queen. This experience I will never forget. Thank you God for this, to all my family, to each of the people who supported me in this dream.”
4. Miss Colombia Camila Avella: This proud wife and mother of one is receiving immense love for her unwavering determination. A video shared collaboratively by the Miss Universe’s official Instagram handle and Ms. Avella featured the contestant’s empowering words in the caption: “Believe in yourself, use the voice you have and transform it to transform your lives, because yes it is possible.”
5. Miss Nepal Jane Dipika Garrett: The first plus-size model in the competition has secured a spot in the top 20. The 22-year-old is an advocate for body positivity, mental health, and hormonal issues. In a recent Instagram post, she penned, “I’m grateful to all my fans and people who supported me. I gave my best and that’s what matters! I’m so proud to be representing real-size beauty around the world and breaking the stereotypes of beauty pageants.”
In addition to these talented women, Miss Pakistan Erica Robin has also made history as the first delegate from her country to join the Miss Universe competition.