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Miss Universe winner and South African native Zozibini Tunzi recently shared that many of her friends and associates suggested she wear a wig for the Miss Universe pageant.

During an interview with Insider, Tunzi opened up about the suggestions she received about her hair. “A lot of people did,” she said. “And it was so strange because even a lot of people I knew, people that were my friends, were like, ‘Sis, we love you, but we’re just saying, maybe you should put on a wig or buy a weave,'” she revealed. “I was like, ‘No, you know what, I’m going to do it the way I am, because I’ve been with my natural hair for the past three years, I don’t see why I should change it just because I’m stepping into another platform.”
Tunzi in turn took the crown sporting her shaped up afro. African-American women in the professional are often met with the decision of trying to decide which hairstyle is appropriate for an occasion. Defying what we are use to seeing, Tunzi decided to challenge what we see as the norm.

Tunzi admitted she wasn’t offended by her friends’ words because they were just repeating what “society has taught us and engraved in our minds for such a long time.”

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“In the past, I think that beauty has been stereotyped to look one certain way,” she continued. “When you open a magazine, that’s what you see. When you open television, that’s what you see. And it becomes embedded within society and ourselves. I’m saying beauty does not look one certain way,” she said. “I’m telling women, you can be beautiful too if you want to. You can stand up and say ‘I’m beautiful the way that I am, with the shape that I am, with the skin color that I have, with the freckles that I have. Anything that is considered unusual and unconventional can still be beautiful too,” she added. “That’s why I feel so proud about this win.”

“I decided, no, this is not worth it,” she recalled. “I decided that I just want to go for a different look. I’m going to cut my hair and see how it looks from there. And I just remember looking into the mirror and loving it.”

She did admit that she was a bit worried about what people would think about seeing a natural African image.  “Before cutting my hair, I did have to think about it,” she said. “I was so scared of not looking beautiful when I see myself in the mirror, of people not considering me attractive anymore. And that’s when I realized that we are so scared of people’s opinions, and that needs to stop. Because once you start feeling that love within you and loving yourself, everything else will follow,” she added. “I cut my hair, and I’ve never looked back.”