Miss Universe Zimbabwe 2023: A Controversial Triumph for Brooke Bruk-Jackson
On September 16, 2023, Brooke Bruk-Jackson was crowned Miss Universe Zimbabwe 2023. However, her victory has sparked controversy as Bruk-Jackson is white, while most of her competitors were black Zimbabwean women. Her win has led many on social media to declare that their ‘ancestors are rolling in their graves’ at the thought of a white woman representing Zimbabwean beauty.
Background on the Pageant
The Miss Universe Zimbabwe competition was last held in 2000. It resumed this year after a 22-year hiatus. The pageant selects Zimbabwe’s representative to compete at Miss Universe, one of the top international beauty pageants. Prior winners of Miss Universe Zimbabwe have been black Zimbabwean women who proudly represented their country on the global stage. However, 2022 marked a shift when the crown was won by a white contestant for the first time.
Reaction to Brooke Bruk-Jackson’s Victory
Bruk-Jackson’s win has sparked fierce debate online. While some congratulated her on her achievement, many others objected to a white woman being named Miss Zimbabwe. Comments accused the pageant organizers of preferring a light-skinned winner over black candidates. There is a sense that in a country with a black majority, the Miss Zimbabwe title should go to a woman who physically represents Zimbabwean identity and beauty standards.
Critics argue that these global beauty pageants in Africa tend to promote Western/Eurocentric notions of beauty at the expense of celebrating diversity and the natural looks of local women. They felt Bruk-Jackson’s victory perpetuates harmful ideas that whiteness is superior. Supporters counter that she won fair and square based on merit alone, and that her ethnicity should not disqualify her talent and qualifications. However, some details about the scoring methodology have brought claims of lack of transparency.
Impact and Discussion
The debate touches on deeper issues of representation, identity and colorism in Zimbabwean and African society. There are valid perspectives on both sides that deserve consideration. While Bruk-Jackson should not be attacked personally, the conversation raises important discussions around whose beauty is celebrated and standardized on a national and global platform. It remains to be seen how her reign as Miss Zimbabwe impacts public opinion and whether the pageant organizers will review their practices and judging criteria going forward to be as inclusive as possible of all Zimbabwean women. Overall, the controversy reflects an ongoing struggle over how African countries and cultures adapt to, resist or redefine Western beauty standards in the modern globalized world.
The crowning of Brooke Bruk-Jackson as Miss Universe Zimbabwe 2023 has sparked fierce debate around issues of representation, identity and beauty standards. While congratulations are due to the winner, the discussion highlights ongoing discussions around whose beauty is promoted and standardized on a national and global stage. It remains to be seen how this impacts views of Zimbabwean beauty and identity going forward. The pageant also faces calls for more transparency and an inclusive, diverse approach that celebrates all facets of Zimbabwean womanhood.