Women We Love

Thank God for Catriona Gray—Singer, Martial Artist, Advocate, And Now, Miss Universe Philippines

She’s clearly a winner.
IMAGE instagram.com/catriona_gray
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We’re a country that takes beauty pageants seriously—which is to say that we tend to worship our beauty queens, and that we also tend to expect a lot from them. But Catriona Elisa Gray—who just last night, was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2018—ran into no trouble with such expectations. In fact, rather than having to fend off the sort of doubts and criticisms that often meet aspirants to the crown, she went into Binibining Pilipinas an early favorite, a fearless forecast, the one to beat for Miss Universe. The Filipino-Australian, who grew up in Australia and whose mother is from Albay, would eventually deliver on those expectations and emerge victorious.

There are obvious reasons that she won, and why no one was surprised that she did. Some reasons stare you right in the face. Two bright, brown doe eyes are among them; as is the impossible, sylphlike length of her proportions. Gray is a model in the classic mold, and a timeless Eurasian beauty if you’d ever seen one. She proves as much on Instagram:

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But beauty pageants also plumb deeper than their contestants’ most obviously beautiful features, and there is far more to Catriona Gray than immediately meets the eye. Her fans will know that she’s a talented singer, whose vocal chops could melt you to a puddle.

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Those who are a little more obsessed with her would tell you that she’s also a black belt in Choi Kwang Do (a modern offshoot of Tae Kwon Do), and something of a painter and sketch artist.

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Lastly—and perhaps most crucially to her win last night—Gray is a well-spoken advocate of noble causes, including the fight for social justice and against inequality. Three years ago, she partnered with an organization called Young Focus, which helps provide education and nutrition to the children of Smokey Mountain. She has campaigned for them and participated in their programs, constantly reiterating the dire need to break the poverty cycle.

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Gray has also spoken out in support of HIV awareness, and responded to last night’s pageant question with an empowering message for the women of Marawi. Asked what she would tell them as Marawi continues to rebuild in the wake of the siege, she underscored the ways in which women can influence their communities.

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So it truly is no surprise that Catriona Gray is off to represent us in this year’s Miss Universe pageant. She’s worthy of her crown, and of the shot at a title only previously held by Pia Wurtzbach, Gloria Diaz, and Margie Moran. When she steps up to the stage this December, we’ll join the rest of the country in rooting for her.

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