Miss South Africa Wins the 2017 Miss Universe Crown


Catherine Hurwitz

Everybody knows that an ideal model is tall, elegant and thin, with clear skin, white teeth and perfect makeup. However, beauty is defined by more than just looks. At the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant, the contestants were chosen not only for their looks, but for their personalities. True beauty is found inside. The contestants exhibited their kindness, intellect and modesty. After all, the competition’s motto is “confidently beautiful.”

On Nov. 26, South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters won the title of the sixty-sixth Miss Universe, and she was crowned by France’s Iris Mittenaere, Miss America 2016. The runner-up was Colombia’s Laura Gonzalez, and the second runner up was Jamaica’s Davina Bennett.

Nel-Peters is South Africa’s second Miss Universe of all 66 competitions, after Margaret Gardiner from 1978. She speaks fluently in English and Afrikaans, and she stands at five foot seven with confidence and determination.
Recently earning a degree in business management at North West University, Nel-Peters is passionate about training women in self-defense and empowering them to fight for better workplace conditions. Her half-sister Franje, who has a physical disability, motivates her to inspire others.

The event was hosted by Steve Harvey and Ashley Graham at the AXIS at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, and it was broadcasted on Fox and Azteca. Fergie and Rachel Platten performed while the contestants showcased their fashion.
Three highlights of the night include the best national costume award, best evening gowns and final question.

The best national costume of the night went to Japan’s Momoko Abe, who wore a reversible dress. The crowd watched in awe as her short, black dress transformed before their eyes to become a checker-print traditional Japanese kimono. For accessories, she held a large fan and wore a golden hat. Harvey was stunned at the drastic change in the dress from western to eastern cultures.

Varying in color and design, the top ten evening dresses were stunningly classy— held by Thailand’s Maria Poonlertlarb, Colombia’s Gonzalez, Canada’s Lauren Howe, Venezuela’s Keysi Sayago, Jamaica Bennett, South Africa’s Nel-Peters, Philippines’ Peters, Brazil’s Monalysia Alcantara, the United State’s Kara McCullough and Spain’s Sofia del Prado.

Jamaica’s Bennett was the only contestant to wear a yellow dress. Tightly fitting by flowing, the dress had a tasteful lace design. Venezuela’s Sayago wore a lovely, tight white dress with silver sequins above the waste, which was similar to Canada’s Howe, who wore a white dress with silver and gold sparkles at the top. Brazil’s Alcantara’s red sequin and sheer dress was both unique and chic.

Although the best dresses were a major part of the night, the contestants had to answer global questions under pressure, in order to prove that they are intellects and can maintain sang-froid.

The final question was: “what quality are you most proud of, and how will you apply that to your time as Miss Universe?”Jamaica’s Bennett answered that her “drive and determination” helped her pursue her “foundation that helps deaf people” and “will be a great platform to help people.”

Colombia’s Gonzalez focused on her passion and putting her “full self in every situation,” as she has done as an actress.

Finally, South Africa’s Nel-Peters won by extolling confidence. “Miss Universe is one who has overcome many fears and will inspire other women too to overcome their fears,” she said.

Because of Nel-Peters’ intelligent response to the final question, as well as her grace walking down the runway, she was crowned Miss Universe 2017. Beauty is definitely defined by how one’s outer being reflects from his or her pure, true inside.