Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters won the crown at this year’s Miss Universe pageant, and while the 22-year-old is being celebrated worldwide, there are many people who feel Miss Jamaica, Davina Bennett, really deserved the title.
Seeing women of color compete in pageants while rocking their natural hair is an empowering deviation from seeing the blown-out, straighter hairstyles contestants traditionally wear. Bennett, the second runner-up for Miss Universe, not only showed off her crowning Afro glory, but did so with grace, intelligence, and confidence — and people are beyond here for it.
Miss Jamaica 2017, Davina Bennett, competes during the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant at The Axis at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on Nov. 26, 2017 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
One Twitter user shared, “Davina represented not only #Jamaica in the #MissUniverse but the black race. I wish she’s the one who should have won. She displayed her Afro with pride redefining the competition. Young black girls out there can feel confidence in their natural hair without whitening it.” The post has since gotten more than 1,000 hearts and more than 300 retweets, with one person going so far as to comment, “Miss Jamaica was robbed.”
Davina represented not only #Jamaica in the #MissUniverse but the black race. I wish she’s the one who should have won. She displayed her Afro with pride redefining the competition. Young black girls out there can feel confidence in their natural hair without whitening it.
Bennett glowed as she competed against 91 other contestants and steadily climbed her way to the top three. During the pageant, she was asked, “What quality in yourself are you most proud of and how will you apply that quality to your time as Miss Universe?” Bennett responded, “The quality I am most proud of is my drive, my determination. I am the founder of a foundation that spreads awareness for the deaf community, and this platform is such a great platform to just let persons know that these persons need opportunities and need equal opportunities and goals in our society. So Miss Universe competition will be the platform for me to use this foundation to spread awareness for all the deaf people around.”
After the competition, the 23-year-old took to Instagram to express gratitude for all the support she received. “I did not win but I got what I was seeking. I won the hearts of many, I got to highlight Deaf awareness, I stand as the first afro queen to have made it thus far, I represented my little island and I received allll the love one could possible wish for.”
Among her many fans is Beyoncé’s go-to hairstylist, Neal Farinah, who also rooted for Bennett. After sharing his admiration for the beauty queen in a series of Instagram stories, he wrote a final post that read, “Such a shame @missuniverse Dark skin women will continue to work harder to prove themselves. Miss Jamaica, u are truly a miss universe.”
While many are still in awe of Bennett’s bold choice to wear her signature Afro, natural hair has been having a major moment in the pageant world lately. Back in May, Miss USA Kara McCullough received an outpouring of love for sporting a full head of voluminous curls, and prior to that, 2016’s Miss USA, Deshauna Barber, made waves for competing with beautiful, tightly coiled hair.
People are taking notice, and it’s apparent there is a need for more of this kind of strand showmanship.