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The Many Firsts Of The 72nd Miss Universe!

By Rediff style
November 21, 2023 10:55 IST
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It was special day for Nicaragua as Sheynnis Palacios brought home the Miss Universe 2023 crown for the very first time.

While Thailand's Anntonia Porsild -- who set the internet aflame with her daring outfits at the contest -- came second, Australia's Moraya Wilson rounded off the winning trio.

What makes this edition of the contest important were a few more events that happened for the first time at Miss Universe.

Miss Universe saw its first body inclusive contestant in 22 year old Miss Nepal, Jane Dipika Garrett.

Pakistan participated for the first time.

Miss Pakistan Erica Robin, who is 25, chose to wear a burkini for the swimsuit round, another first.

Miss Columbia Camila Avella, who placed in the top five, and Miss Netherlands Rikkie Kolle were the first mothers to compete in the event.

While marital or parental status is no longer a restriction at the contest, Miss Universe will break another barrier next year as it removes the age restriction for participating contestants as well; until now, women had to be between the ages of 18 and 28 to compete at the international beauty pageant. 

Meanwhile, Portugal sent its first transgender contestant, 28-year-old Marina Machete, to the event.

As did Netherlands, which was represented by 22-year-old Rikkie Kolle.

Pakistan, Nepal and Portugal reached the top 20 in the 72nd edition of the Miss Universe pageant, which saw 90 countries competing for the prestigious title at the Jose Adolfo Pineda Arena in San Salvador, El Salvador.

India, too, finished in the top 20 but failed to recreate Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu's glorious moment in 2021 when India won the crown after 21 years. However, Miss Diva Universe 2023 Shweta Sharda did put her best foot forward with some rather interesting looks which we present below.

But first, the crowning moment...

Miss Nicaragua

IMAGE: The smile, the joy is always the same.
Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios is crowned Miss Universe.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Miss Universe/Instagram


Miss Nicaragua

IMAGE: There she is, in flawless close-up.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Miss Universe/Instagram


IMAGE: Miss Diva Universe 2023 Shweta Sharda looked lovely as well.
She channelled her inner 'armoured goddess' at the national costume round to showcase India's rich heritage in an exquisite brown lehenga choli and unique headgear.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Shweta Sharda/Instagram


IMAGE: Shweta put her best foot forward for a charity gala dinner to raise funds for the Benjamin Bloom's Children Hospital in San Salvador.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Shweta Sharda/Instagram


IMAGE: 'Pause,' she says, 'breathe and enjoy the goodness around.'
Photograph: Kind courtesy Shweta Sharda/Instagram


IMAGE: Shweta seems made for this fitted sari designed by Prerna Mehra.
The Chandigarh-born lass is a dancer and choreographer who has showcased her talent on various dance reality shows such as Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, Dance India Dance, Dance Deewane and Dance Plus.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Shweta Sharda/Instagram 


IMAGE: It's amply clear that Shweta loves her stripes.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Shweta Sharda/Instagram


IMAGE: 'Feeling fiery and fierce is the vibe of the day,' she says.
While Shweta wore many shades of red at the competition, was this her favourite?
Photograph: Kind courtesy Shweta Sharda/Instagram


IMAGE: She chose to shine in black and silver for her Miss Universe shoot.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Shweta Sharda/Instagram


Miss Pakistan

IMAGE: Not only was Erica Robin the first to represent Pakistan in the contest's 72 year history, she was also the first to wear a burkini in the swimsuit round.
Erica confessed to 'receiving some backlash' for participating in Miss Pakistan but added that she was 'ready to face any challenges while maintaining her values as a young, modern Pakistani woman'.
She wanted to show the world, she added, 'that Pakistan can celebrate the success of women'.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Erica Robin/Instagram


Miss Nepal

IMAGE: As Miss Universe's first plus-sized contestant, Miss Nepal Jane Dipika Garrett was proud to represent 'real size beauty around the world and break the stereotypes of beauty pageants'.
In an interview to Hola magazine, she said, 'There's not one way to be beautiful -- every woman is beautiful just as they are.'
Photograph: Kind courtesy Jade Dipika Garrett/Instagram


Miss Columbia

IMAGE: Maria Camila Avella Montanez, to use her full name, became the first married woman and mother to reach the top 5 in Miss Universe.
This is the first year that married women and mothers were allowed to participate in this global contest.
Her hope is that her journey would be an inspiration to all working mothers.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Camila Avella/Instagram

Miss Guatemala

IMAGE: Like Camila, Miss Guatemala Michelle Cohn was the first married woman in her country to win the Miss Universe Gautemala title.
This mother of two calls herself a 'Mom Queen' and finds the time to model, host on television and run her own business, Luca Beachwear, as well.
She did not make it to the top 10 but she did make a stunning impression at the contest.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Michelle Cohn/Instagram


Miss Portugal

IMAGE: Though she is not the first transwoman to participate in the contest -- that barrier was broken by Miss Spain Angela Maria Ponce Camacho in 2018 -- Miss Portugal Marina Machete set a new record by placing in the top 20 at Miss Universe.
The 28-year-old flight attendant, who became the first transwoman to be crowned Miss Universe Portugal, won the Miss Confident title when she represented her country at Miss Universe.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Luis Bisanti/Instagram


Miss Netherlands

IMAGE: Miss Netherlands Rikkie Valerie Kolle, the other transwoman contestant, wore her 'colours with pride' at Miss Universe.
Among the achievements at the contest, she counts 'Making my community visible on this huge stage. Sharing my message and creating awareness. Especially my dress had the trans colours in it.'
In an interview to El Pais after winning the contest in her country -- the first transwoman to do so -- she said, 'With the pageantry, I have the right to speak. I can speak about trans rights here in the Netherlands. I can be there for my community.' 
Miss Universe, incidentally, has been accepting trans contestants since 2012.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Rikkie Kolle/Instagram

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