Universe-al beauty

Mark McDermoth, Miss Universe Jamaica 2017 franchise holder, has pledged that organisers of the local competition will continue to encourage women who deviate from the stereotypical pageant representation of beauty. Allure Magazine, Essence Magazine, Yahoo Lifestyles and People Magazine are just a few of the media outlets raving about how much Bennett and her 'Afro' will redefine pageant's definition of beauty.

With the Internet flooded with stories of Davina Bennett's confidence in her natural self, McDermoth believes there is a change in beauty pageants, a change he supports wholeheartedly.

"We knew that she was popular and we knew that she would have made a mark. The same thing happened to Kaci Fennel, too. A lot of people felt like Kaci Fennel would have taken the crown and she did not and many were saying it was because she wore her hair short. But the morning after, there were stories about her uniqueness being shared all over the Internet," he said. "We started a course with the Miss Universe Jamaica brand that we were never the stewards who would keep the competition as a beauty-only brand, and we do not stand by any specific definitions of beauty. Miss Universe Jamaica has moved away from a vague stereotypical idea of what a beauty pageant is."

He said despite what many people may think, the global pageant has also begun to embrace women who do not fit into the 'straight hair, light-skinned' profile of beauty and who are making their mark in the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants. "If you look at this year's competition, they were looking for women of substance, women who had stories, women who would inspire by telling these stories, and these women did not have a specific 'look'," he said.

McDermott said any biases that still exist in beauty pageants will be quickly washed away, once more women like Bennett flood the contests. "I think the more we get these women out on these platforms is the more we will see women like them entering these competitions, and this is when we will change any kind of biases or stereotypes against beauty. We will continue to scout for these amazing Jamaican beauties and we will continue to put them on these international platforms, because that's how it should be. We should put our best forward, no matter her skin colour or the texture of her hair, and let the chips fall where they may."

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