If you are like most people, you don’t know much about beauty pageants. Most of the common knowledge regarding them is when we see them satirized on television or at the movies. And while there is no denying the objectification of the contestants, people would be lying to you if they said their was nothing special about them. The pageant winner is the person you want to be and to be with. They are meant to be pinnacle of perfection and it would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the ladies that made it look so easy. And considering a chunk of the winners have come straight from the Latino community, here is our list for the greatest international pageant winners.
A career pageant contestant and the Miss Venezuela of 1955, Carmen Susana Duijm Zubillaga competed in the Miss Universe competition to reach top 15 in 1955. It was in that same year where her true stardom came to be when she became the first Venezuelan and Latin American woman to win the Miss World competition. Her success lead her to become a actress and presenter on Venezuelan television. Her popularity was so great that they named a kind of arepa after her called the “reina pepiada” arepa which includes chicken, avocado, and other spices.
Someone who has done it all, Cecilia Bolocco isn’t just the first Chilean woman to win the Miss Universe pageant. Smart enough to pursue a civil engineering degree at the University of Santiago, Chile, she then decided to move on to costume design. After her tenure as Miss Universe, she worked as the anchorwoman of a section of CNN for the Telemundo Network. Did I mention she married the former president of Argentina at one point?
The first delegate from Ecuador to win the Miss Earth competition, Olga Mercedes Álava Vargas has focused her concerns on problems across the globe. Whether she is planting trees or saving Asian elephants in Sri Lanka, no task seemed too daunting for her. Her commitment to environmentalism around the world has set an example for all future generations to follow.
A Colombian woman of Spanish and Polish heritage, Maria Stella Márquez Zawadski-Araneta has been a staple in beauty pageants for over half a century. Winning Miss Colombia in 1959, she went on to compete and win the Miss International competition in 1960. The first Latin American to win that Miss International, she is now the Director for the Miss Philippines competition which sends its winners to both the Miss International and Miss Universe competitions.
The first Dominican woman to win an international beauty title, Mariasela Alvarez Lebrón is one of the most impressive people on this list. After being crowned the 32nd Miss World, she returned to Santo Domingo in order to finish her degree in architecture. She has designed multiple building in her home country, inlcuding the landmark the Torre Cristal. She went on to create her own TV production company. Wow.
Winner of the 1993 Miss Universe pageant, Dayanara Torres Delgado has succeeded in multiple avenues in her life. During and after her tenure as Miss Universe, she became the ambassador to UNICEF. She created the Dayanara Torres Foundation which created scholarships for the poor in Puerto Rico and the Philippines. And she even wrote a book concerning relationship experience and advice.
The first Venezuelan to win the Miss Universe title, she dominated the pageant in the interview, swimsuit, and nightgown segments. Journalists and photographers were so eager to close to her after the telecast ended that the stage began to collapse, injuring two contestants. Her name has become synonymous with beauty among Spanish language speakers, and not simply just in Venezuela. Many parents in the 1980’s named their children after her.
María Guadalupe “Lupita” Jones Garay was winner of the 1991 Miss Universe pageant, being the first Mexican woman to win the crown. Before that however, she studied business administration and eventually industrial administration. She hosted a beauty pageant reality show on Univision for a six year run. She is also known for her humanitarian causes, as she was appointed as the United Nations Population Fund Goodwill Ambassador
The fourth woman from Venezuela to win Miss Universe, she went on pursue a career in acting and modeling. Starring in soap operas and reality TV shows, she is also well known for her involvement in politics. She is probably most famously known for calling out then presidential candidate Donald Trump for his racist and sexist behavior. Regardless of your politics, her courage to stand up to a man running for one of the most powerful offices in the world was impressive to say the least.
The first and only Spaniard to win the Miss Universe competition, Amparo Muñoz Quesada became a popular actress after her reign. She starred in the comedy “Momma Turns 100” along with dramas such as “Clara es el Precio,” “The Other Bedroom,” and “Dedicatory.” Among her pageant colleagues, her acting career was one of the most successful.