Chelsea Anne Manalo Leads the Charge for Black Representation as First Black Filipino to Represent Philippines at Miss Universe

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Credit: manalochelsea via Instagram

Breaking Beauty Norms: A Historic Win

Chelsea Anne Manalo wrote her name in history on Wednesday night. The 24-year-old Filipino-American model from Bulacan province was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2024, becoming the first Black woman to represent the country at the prestigious Miss Universe pageant.

Shattering Traditional Beauty Standards

Manalo’s victory sparked conversations about diversifying beauty ideals in the Philippines. “Chelsea’s win challenges our ingrained preference for Eurocentric beauty (features) and lighter complexions in our nation,” one social media user commented. Another exclaimed, “Filipino beauty standard shattered into pieces.”

“As a woman of color, I have always faced challenges in my life. I was told that beauty has standards, actually,” Manalo shared on stage.

Overcoming Insecurities and Embracing Uniqueness

Despite facing bullying and insecurities about her appearance growing up, Manalo credited her friends and family for helping her “realize that I am beautiful in my own extraordinary way.” In a YouTube video, she opened up about her journey, saying, “I grew up having insecurities as I was always bullied because of my skin and my hair type.”

Manalo’s triumph is a significant stride towards more inclusive representation in the Philippines, where Western beauty standards have long prevailed. Lighter-skinned actors and models typically dominate major media platforms, perpetuating narrow beauty ideals shaped by the country’s colonial past.

The Road to Miss Universe 2024

After besting 52 other contestants from across the archipelago, Manalo will now prepare to represent the Philippines at the 73rd Miss Universe pageant in Mexico in September. She aims to earn the country’s fifth Miss Universe crown, following the footsteps of Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973), Pia Wurtzbach (2015), and Catriona Gray (2018).

Controversy Surrounding Miss Universe Organization

However, Manalo’s historic journey is set against the backdrop of controversy surrounding the Miss Universe organization. Both Miss USA and Miss Teen USA resigned from their roles earlier in May, citing allegations of mismanagement, a toxic work environment, and conditions that impacted their mental health.

As the first Black Filipino to grace the Miss Universe stage, Chelsea Anne Manalo’s triumph symbolizes a shift towards embracing diversity and empowering women of all backgrounds to confidently showcase their unique beauty.

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