The Miss Universe beauty pageant has been a fixture in media throughout history since its creation in 1952. It has also made news headlines throughout its runs, recently for Trump's conduct during his previous ownership, and for Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot's participation in 2004.
In the last few days, Miss USA, Sarah Summers, as well as Miss Australia and Colombia drew the world's ire in their ill remarks of Miss Cambodia, Rern Sinat and Miss Vietnam, H'hen Nie that seemingly mocked the two contestant's lack of English understanding (never mind that Miss Vietnam speaks two languages fluently, and is learning English throughout the run of the pageant). This event drew the attention of the world, and although the guilty three had expressed their apologies, and had been graciously forgiven, the scandal served to highlight the good natures of Miss Cambodia and Vietnam.
I, like many others, found myself incredibly interested in the two contestant's stories- especially so in Vietnam's H'Hen Nie as she is representing my origin country.
H'Hen Nie, a 26-year-old woman, has been making headlines long before her appearance in the Miss Universe pageant. Born to a large family in poverty, she lived in Dak Lak and is actually of Rade descent. Going against her culture's customs of starting a family early, she moved to Ho Chi Minh to pursue studies as well as work in order to support her family. Eventually being discovered by a modeling agency, and appearing on Vietnam's Next Top Model, she took the nation by storm with her impressive height (5'8"), sweet and academic nature, and a touching backstory as well as a strong moral cause to help those in need.
H'Hen Nie usurped expected winner Hoang Thuy in the Miss Universe Vietnam pageant, with judges finding her bold look, bronzed skin, and outspoken attitude refreshing and stand out. Being a Vietnamese-American girl, my heart secretly cheered for her win. Past Vietnamese contestants and winners were praised for their pale skin and long hair, and although I was proud for their success, I felt as if my naturally darker tone wasn't good enough, and was too "countryside". H'Hen Nie, who is a fan of maintaining her tanned complexion, and continues to keep her hair characteristically short, is everything I had ever wanted in a beauty role model, and her message of education for young women as well as outspoken nature for the state that Vietnam is in as a result of her own experiences, makes her not only the best candidate, in my opinion, but also one of the biggest voices for this younger generation.
Another thing to love? Sis really walked down one of the biggest runways in the world wearing a banh mi dress.