As the world tunes in to the most prominent pageant in existence, the Miss Universe stage becomes the perfect platform to send a powerful message. Friday’s national costume exhibition proved to be just that, as not only did countries got to showcase their unique cultures to the world, but also had the opportunity to amplify an urgent issue to a global audience.
For that purpose, Miss Singapore, Miss Myanmar, and Miss Uruguay take the cake. Hear about the bold stances they took on the stage below:
Miss Universe Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong
Born and raised in the Philippines, Singapore’s bet Bernadette Belle Ong brought to the pageant stage her calls to “Stop Asian Hate,” painted on the back of her red and white cape that resembled the Singaporean flag.
Ong’s uniting slogan turns the spotlight to the recent hate crimes committed to the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community in the United States. Deeply rooted in a multicultural community herself, the Singaporean representative echoed the ideals of universal fellowship and purity, as symbolized by the red and white strokes.
While elaborating on her costume, Miss Singapore also revealed that it was actually sewn by a Filipino designer, Arwin Meriales, who put the outfit together just two days before the event.
Miss Universe Myanmar Hakha Thuzar Wint Lwin
From one Southeast Asian country to another, we were also made to be aware of what’s happening in Myanmar through Miss Universe Myanmar Hakha Thuzar Wint Lwin’s strong and straightforward call to “Pray for Myanmar” on a clear white paper.
Wearing a traditional Chin attire that’s decidedly more toned down than the other nation’s attires, Miss Myanmar turned our heads towards the months-long military regime that has seized control of Myanmar. The ongoing coup, which has already seen the detention of democratic party leader Aung San Suu Kyi and more than 3,800 others, has also led to the deaths of more than 700 citizens.
And this wasn’t even the original outfit planned for Miss Myanmar, as her intended national costume got lost in the mail and “couldn’t make it in time.”
Miss Universe Uruguay Lola De Los Santos Biccò
Activism again takes center stage as Uruguayan candidate Lola De Los Santos rallied the audience to uphold equality for members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Miss Uruguay slipped into a sleek black gown and a stunning half-cape with rainbow streaks that can be unfurled to read: “No More Hate, Violence, Rejection, Discrimination.”
“Respect for the individuality of the other is an obligation of humanity, but even more than that, it is the right of the other to be FREE,” De Los Santos wrote under her Instagram post that flaunted her costume. “This costume is inspired by my own story, a free young woman who decided to tell the world who she is, to be the light of those who, still oppressed by other people’s opinions, discrimination and violence, have not been able to scream for HER FREEDOM.”
“It is a creation that honors the LGTBIQ + community, to defend those who suffer from transphobia, homophobia, biphobia.”