All the Historic Firsts at Miss Universe 2023
Nicaragua has been participating in the Miss Universe beauty pageant since 1955. This year, finally, their time has come.
The South American country produced its first-ever winner in the annual beauty tilt in the person of 23-year-old Sheynnis Palacios, who was crowned in San Salvador, El Salvador on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila).
Palacios triumphed over 89 other contestants from across the globe.
But Nicaragua’s win was only one of several other firsts that happened in this year’s edition of Miss Universe.
In August 2022, Miss Universe revised its rules to allow mothers, married or pregnant women to compete.
Miss Colombia, Camila Avella, competed and made it to the competition’s Top 5. Avella is not only married, but she is also the mother of two-year-old Amelia.
A second married woman—Miss Guatamela’s Michelle Cohn—also competed but did not place in the top 10.
Miss Nepal, Jane Dipika Garrett, turned heads and earned worldwide praise for being the first plus-sized contestant in the pageant. Garrett The 22-year-old became a crowd favorite as she confidently walked onstage during the swimwear and long gown segments of the pageant.
“As a curvy woman who doesn’t follow certain beauty standards, I’m here to represent all women," she said in an interview.
Although the first transgender contestant to compete in the pageant was Miss Spain Angela Ponce, this year’s roster of candidates is noteworthy for the inclusion of two trans women: Miss Netherlands Rikkie Kolle and Miss Portugal Marina Machete, with the latter placing in the top 20.
The majority Muslim nation of Pakistan also fielded its first-ever contestant in the beauty pageant. Twenty-four-year-old Erica Robin earned the right to represent Pakistan in a competition held in the Maldives in October. Instead of wearing a revealing two-piece bikini in the swimsuit segment during the preliminaries, Robin wore a flowing pink “burkini” that covered her entire body.
Robin, who hails from Karachi and identifies as a Christian, and organizers of the Miss Pakistan pageant have faced intense backlash back home in Pakistan, where deeply conservative officials have questioned her participation.
Meanwhile, the pageant itself is making a return to El Salvador, which last hosted Miss Universe back in 1975.
Miss Philippines’s bet Michelle Marquez Dee, placed in the Top 10.