74th Miss Universe

Marisol Orlina, Editor

Annually, the Miss Universe Organization holds one of the largest and most celebrated pageants in the world. This year, although no extraterrestrial beings were entered in the competition, 84 different countries were represented by their reigning pageant champion in New Orleans.

On the crowning eve of Jan. 14, USA representative R’Bonney Gabriel, a Houston native and the first Filipino American to win Miss USA, took the Miss Universe title, with Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel, in second, Miss Dominican Republic, Andreína Martinez, in third.

Gabriel first took the crowd storm in her grand 30-pound moon costume. During the country-themed costume segment of the show, Gabriel displayed her patriotism through a silver body suit bedazzled with pearl and neon lighting. From her sides sprung numerous large shiny stars, and above her head stood an embellished headpiece accompanied by none other than the moon.

Gabriel explained the design was inspired by the NASA Johnson Space Center, which she spent much of her life around as she is a Houston and Friendswood native. “I am proud to be from a city working to send the first female to the moon,” Gabriel said on her Instagram.

In addition to the pizzaz of the competition, Miss Universe also strives to empower women and girls across the globe. The true keys to the competition are charitability, generosity, and advocacy. Gabriel demonstrated this throughout the competition, even during the costume segment.

“The purpose of this costume was to inspire women in all spaces across the universe to dream big, shoot for the moon and achieve something out of this world,” Gabriel said.

Following her presentation in the costume segment, during the swimsuit portion Gabriel wore one of her own, personal, designs she created herself. Sporting a bright orange suit, Gabriel accompanied it wish a cape with writing on the back exclaiming ‘If not now, then when?’ Gabriel expressed her appreciation for environmental advocacy and support by ensuring the outfit was sustainably made from recycled plastic and a safe dying process.

Most notable, however were her responses during the Miss Universe finals. When asked how she would continue the legacy of Miss Universe if crowned, Gabriel responded by saying she’d strive to be a transformational leader.

“I teach sewing classes to women that have survived from human trafficking and domestic violence,” Gabriel said on the glamorous stage. “And I say that because it is so important to invest in other, invest in our community, and use your unique talent to make a different.”

Although the love Gabriel expressed for a healthy planet and a healthy population throughout the show was heartwarming, following her win, allegations of a rigged competition were made. Both Gabriel and Miss Universe have denied the accusations.

“It was not rigged because I would never enter any pageant or any competition that I know I would win,” Gabriel said. Miss Universe came to the defense of their organization’s integrity as well.

“The false rigging allegations are absurd and distract from the incredible milestones our organization and the delegates experienced this week,” Miss Universe Organization said.

“Instead of focusing on unfounded, statements, we will continue to shine a light on global women’s empowerment, inclusiveness, diversity, and transformational leadership.”

Despite the competition being questioned, Miss Universe still fulfilled its ultimate goal. As it is every year, Miss Universe rises to empower women across the globe, the pageant demonstrates female leadership and global generosity.