• America is taking advantage of their rich cultural diversity to produce some stunning beauty queens (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Do pageants in Australia have a diversity problem?
By
Bianca Soldani

8 Jun 2016 - 4:30 PM  UPDATED 8 Jun 2016 - 4:30 PM

This week Deshauna Barber was crowned the most beautiful person in the United States. Along with breaking down stereotypes as a first lieutenant in the Army Reserves, the new Miss Universe USA shows just how diverse the winners of the national competition are.

Nia Sanchez, whose background is Mexican and German, represented the country at the international Miss Universe pageant in 2014 where she finished second behind Miss Colombia. 

Rima Fakih meanwhile, was born in Lebanon to Shia Muslim parents and donned the USA sash in 2010. In fact, looking back at the past 12 winners, it's clear that there's no one type of beauty prized above all others, sending a powerful message to the girls watching.

Why is it then, if we look at the same competition in Australia, a very different image emerges?

Just like in the US, each year a pageant is held to select a Miss Australia to represent her country on the international stage. But looking back over recent winners, there's a concerning lack of diversity for a nation that prides itself on multiculturalism. 

Last year’s competition was a refreshing exception, with winner Monika Radulovic, who was born in Southeastern Europe and fled to Australia as a refugee of the Bosnian war, a strong example of how migration enriches the country. 

It remains to be seen how diverse the finalists will be when the 2016 candidate is chosen in August this year, but things look much more promising at the Miss World pageant.

Like Miss Universe, Miss World is a similar beauty competition where a local Miss World Australia pageant is held to select a national representative for the annual international final. The past ten years have seen Lebanese-Australian Jessica Kahawaty, Scottish and Jamaican beauty Ashleigh Francis and Indo-Lebanese Australian Sabrina Houssami, wearing the sash as Miss World Australia in 2012, 2010 and 2006 respectively.

This year may also see the first Indigenous winner crowned as Yolngu woman Magnolia Maymuru qualified will be competing on behalf of the Northern Territory. True beauty comes in every type of skin tone and it would be empowering to many young women to see people who look like them wear the crown for Australia.

Yirrkala model to represent NT in Miss World Australia
Magnolia Maymuru, a Yolngu woman, is flying the flag for the Northern Territory and representing her state in Miss World Australia.