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Reita to Manushi: A Recap of India’s Most Renowned International Pageant Winners

The Miss World pageant started in 1951, and has since been surprisingly less unbiased in their candidate selection and winners than you’d think, what with the history of the world and all. In its fourth year running, Egyptian born Antigone Constanda was crowned queen, and if you ask me, that’s a pretty progressive choice for 1954; I mean the Civil Rights Movement only started in America that very year, and Apartheid had very recently been instated in South Africa.

The pageant started off as being the ‘Festival Bikini Contest’, but was popularized as the ‘Miss World’ competition. The very first winner, Kerstin “Kiki” Hakansson, was crowned in a bikini – a wardrobe item that had just been released and was causing a scandal for it’s lack of modesty. For this reason, many countries declined to enter their contestants into the pageant, but in 1976, evening gowns were the chosen outfits of the finalists, and have been ever since.

Since Antigone’s win, exactly 30 women of colour have taken the crown, in the 66 years that the pageant has been running for. However, the first black African winner, Nigerian born Agbani Darego, was crowned only in 2001.


Though there is a considerable amount of controversy around the idea of beauty pageants as a whole, and reasonably so, we are proud to say that the 2017 winner of the Miss World beauty pageant was one of our own Brown girls, 20 year old Manushi Chhillar, who was crowned on the 18th November, in Sanya, China.

Not only is Manushi beautiful, but she’s got her head in the books too. Born in Haryana, India, Manushi is a med school student who looks up to Miss World 1966, Reita Faria, as a role model, considering that she was a medical student as well.


In honour of Manushi’s win, we’ve decided to share with you a recap of the most prominent international pageant brown winners in their moment of glamour:

Reita Faria, Miss World 1966
Lyceum Theatre, U.K.


Aishwariya Rai, Miss World 1994
Sun City, South Africa



Sushmita Sen, Miss Universe 1994
Manila, Philippines



Diana Hayden, Miss World 1997
Plantation Club, Seychelles


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Yukta Mookhey, Miss World 1999
Olympia, U.K.



Priyanka Chopra, Miss World 2000
Millenia Dome, London



Lara Dutta, Miss Universe 2000


With stars in our eyes, all we can say is,
“Jai Ho!”

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