5 reasons we love Miss Universe Zozi Tunzi (in honour of her Bday)

Our queen!

By Tegan Mouton

5 reasons we love Miss Universe Zozi Tunzi (in honour of her Bday)

Zozibini Tunzi

It’s been almost a year since South Africa woke up to the incredible news that our own local beauty and Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi had been crowned Miss Universe, only the third South African to have done so.

The world has changed a lot since then, as has Zozi’s entire life, but one thing that has stayed the same is our appreciation for Zozi and all that she stands for.

So in honour of her 27th birthday, here are five things we love about Zozibini Tunzi:

She didn’t give up on her dreams

Zozi’s crowning achievement at the 2019 Miss South Africa pageant actually marked her second attempt at the title, as she had already entered the 2017 pageant but failed to make it to the semi-finals. Well she admitted that she was sad not to have progressed further in the competition, she would later write in a Facebook post that, “I thought to myself ‘God’s timing is perfect. He is never early, he is never late, he is always on time.’”

She added: “I sit here patiently, rest assured that what is mine will find me and surely then his will will be done.”

Well she was right about that one!

She rose above negativity after her win

Zozi has spoken openly about a lot of the racism and criticism she received from online trolls (something we’ll never understand) after both of her crowning achievements in 2019.

Speaking to EWN last year she said: “I would get comments every time I post. I once posted a photo outside my apartment, it was a very nice dark image of Joburg. ‘This picture is so black just like you Miss black South Africa’ was a comment I received. Comments like ‘why is this man representing South Africa in the competition?’

“It was crazy at first. Colourism and racism is a real thing going into the competition – I knew I would shake the table. I knew I would be the unconventional Miss South Africa to have won because no one has ever won with their hair or whatever, looking like I do.”

Luckily the public relations graduate didn’t let the criticism get her down, and is happy to be a role model and change maker for young women in South Africa.

“If I have to be the sacrificial lamb for people to call me ugly or whatever it is that they want to call me, it’s fine because then I open a gate for people who are different, like me, who want to be in spaces where they have been told they don’t belong.”

She’s made the most of a difficult reigning year

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has been a serious game changer for everyone, and Zozi is no exception. While a reigning year for Miss Universe is usually marked by plenty of overseas trips, outreach programmes and glamorous photo ops, she’s essentially been stuck in her New York City apartment since March.

Still, the beauty queen hasn’t let that get her down too much, and she’s still been active by speaking out on a variety of important causes and interacting with followers via her #UniverseUnited hashtag.

Well we can imagine being thousands of kilometres away from your loved ones during an unprecedented global health crisis must be daunting, Zozi has handled it with grace, and we’re thrilled to see she was recently allowed to travel back to SA to see her family!

She admits she’s not perfect

It’s easy to see beauty queens as squeaky clean public figures since so much of the pageant process is about putting your best foot forward, but Zozi has been outspoken about how daunting she finds it that people consider her “perfect”.

This was the case in early 2020 when a social media firestorm started after new Miss South Africa hopefuls suffered backlash when some of their old offensive tweets were unearthed, resulting in one entrant even withdrawing from the competition.

Shortly after, Zozi took to Instagram where she posted a six-minute video clip saying she was uncomfortable with being used as an example for a “perfect” pageant candidate, and apologised for her own past “insensitive” social media posts.

“When I saw that, it hit me, I was taken aback. When I read those comments I said, ‘surely I’m human, there must be some mistakes that I’ve made?’

“I can’t really be as perfect as I’m made out to be. And that scared me, to think that is the standard that people hold me up to. So because of that conversation, I took it upon myself to actually go to my Facebook, back to when I first created the account in 2012 to see what I posted during that time.

“I saw a lot of things that I’m proud of, a lot of things I had said about myself, about others, things that ring true to who I am, and then I saw other posts that I’m not so proud of.

“I saw posts that I shared on Facebook that were very insensitive, posts that should have never shared or posted. I was so disappointed with myself and I’m filled with shame.

“So, I want to take the time to apologise for those posts that I shared, to apologise to anyone that is or was affected by those posts. Just to say that those posts are in direct contrast to who I am and everything that I stand for.”

We’re not sure what posts she was talking about, but we respect that Zozi felt the need to reiterate that she’s not perfect, and that she could apologise for anything she’s done wrong in the past.

She’s using her platform for good

Unsurprisingly, Zozi is outspoken about a lot of causes close to her heart, and has been using her Miss Universe (and previously Miss South Africa) platforms to try and kickstart meaningful conversation and change in society. Some examples include gender based violence (a massive problem in South Africa), racism and colourism and opportunities for young people.

We know these issues will remain close to her heart long after her Miss Universe year ends, and we can’t wait to see what she achieves next!

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