In a histroy making beauty pageant, Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios won the coveted Miss Universe 2023 title, beating her 83 coconstaentans from as many countries during a dazzling pageant on November 18th, 2023 in San Salvador, El Salvador. Tis is the first time ever in the 72 year-old history of the pageant, a conteststant from Nicaragua, a central American country has won the covetetd ttile.
Palacios, 23, a mental-health activist and audiovisual producer, became the first woman from Nicaragua to win the crown at Saturday night’s pageant. The organization shared on Instagram that the new winner copes with anxiety and launched a TV segment called “Understand Your Mind,” in which she interviews experts in emotional care.
Last year’s winner, Miss Universe and Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel crowned Palacios with the prestigious crown. The 23-year-old, a TV host and model, beat first runner-up Anntonia Porsild from Thailand and second runner-up Moraya Wilson from Australia. The other contestants who made the top 10 to appear in the final were Colombia’s Camila Avella, El Salvador’s Isabella García-Manzo, Peru’s Camila Escribens, the Philippines’ Michelle Dee, Puerto Rico’s Karla Guilfú Acevedo, Spain’s Athenea Pérez and Venezuela’s Diana Silva.
Palacios appeared to secure the win when she confidently answered the question of which woman’s shoes would she like to spend a year in by saying Mary Wollstonecraft, the 18th-century English writer and philosopher. Wollstonecraft was an advocate of women’s rights and is considered one of the forerunners of feminism. Palacios said she wants to work to close the salary gap between the genders so that women can work in any area.
Miss Universe was last held in El Salvador in 1975. This year’s event was another opportunity for President Nayib Bukele to tout changes made under his administration, especially greatly improving the country’s safety.
“El Salvador has changed for good and we have shown it again,” Bukele said Saturday night. “Miss Universe has given us the opportunity to show the world what we are capable of. Thank you for choosing to be part of El Salvador’s rebirth.”
Shweta Sharda, who had represented India at this year’s Miss Universe pageant did not make it to the top 10. Shweta – a 23-year-old model from Chandigarh – won the prestigious Miss Diva Universe title this year. Shweta made Mumbai her home with her mother at the age of 16 to make a career in modelling. Shweta has made silverscreen appearances on several reality shows. She has appeared in Dance India Dance, Dance Deewane, and Dance Plus. Shweta also used to work as a choreographer in the dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. Shweta holds a bachelor’s degree from Indira Gandhi National Open University, and she won the Miss Diva 2023 title this year. Shweta did not make it to the top 10 this year.
Hours before the final, Palacious, who had competed in many pageants before, shared a heartfelt message on Instagram about fulfilling a childhood dream to take part in the global competition.
“Tonight, I dedicate it to my inner child and to each of the girls who yearn to fulfill this dream,” she wrote in Spanish, “even the sky itself is the limit, dream so big that people think it is impossible to achieve, because that is where you know that your dreams and goals will exceed obstacles, and remember to accompany them with determination, perseverance and passion.”
She continued, “My beautiful homeland, thank you for allowing me to be an ambassador of your culture, of your landscapes, of our identity and colonial beauty, my Nicaragua…will be an honor to scream one more night your name and prove to the universe that the homeland may be small but we are full of big dreams.”
Eighty-four contestants — each representing their home countries — were in contention, but most only briefly: at the beginning of the competition, the field then narrowed to 20 semi-finalists, selected based on their performance in the pageant’s preliminary stage and, in one case, a global fan vote.
As the night progressed, the field was further winnowed; by the time the pageant’s evening gown round played out, only 10 contestants were in the running for the Miss Universe title (and tiara, of course). While it was tradition for the eliminated beauty queens to walk the stage, en masse, to show off their looks at this point, it was usually just a brief — and tightly-choreographed — glimpse at all the sequins, corsetry and fishtail trains.
All that fashion finery was not lost entirely in the blink of an eye, however: each contestant had their runway moment during the aforementioned preliminary proceedings. At the end of it all, multiple other contestants made Miss Universe history at the 72nd event, hosted by Olivia Culpo, Maria Menounos and Jeannie Mai.
Miss Colombia Camila Avella, a married mother, made the top five. After winning the Miss Colombia title, she posted portraits of herself in her crown and sash, hugging her young daughter, Amelia, and tux-clad husband Nassif Kamle. “Without them, and without the teachings that leave me each day to day, none of this would be possible,” she wrote on Instagram at the time.
2023 was the first year, married women and mothers were allowed to compete. Avella competed alongside Miss Guatemala Michelle Cohn, a mother of two. “MOM QUEEN,” Cohn captioned a pageant portrait of herself on Instagram with her two children.
Plus-size contestant Miss Nepal Jane Dipika Garrett was the pageant’s first body-inclusive contestant and finished in the top 20. “I love my curves! My body is my temple and I will take care of it as holy ground,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of herself from the swimsuit competition.
For the first time, the pageant included a Miss Pakistan, Erica Robin, who wore a pale-pink, floor-length caftan for the swimsuit competition. “When I was young, I always watched Miss Universe and I used to believe that a woman from Pakistan couldn’t join the greatest Olympics of its kind,” she wrote on Instagram after winning the Miss Pakistan title and celebrated “being able to use my platform for good change and transformation.
This year’s competitors also included two transgender women: Miss Portugal Marina Machete, who placed in the top 20, and Miss Netherlands Rikkie Valerie Kollé. On Instagram, Machete gave thanks for “the opportunity to share my story and represent the diversity and unshakable strength we have as women” and added, “I’ll keep inspiring the change I want to see in the world!”
Miss Universe pageant represents the most beautiful women in the entire universe. A woman can stand tall and be Miss Universe only if she is ‘confidently beautiful’. Governed by the Miss Universe organization from the US, nearly a hundred women compete annually across the globe for this most celebrated and coveted crown. According to the organisers, the contestants were judged based on several metrics – personal statements, in-depth interviews and presentations in evening gowns and swimwear. Besides beauty, one’s grace, elegance, attitude, and culture are key aspects that decide the winner.
The winner of this highly honored title righty echoed these sentiments: “Nicaragua, I feel you in my heartbeat, the sound of your marimba runs through my veins,” Palacios, the new Miss Universe 2023 wrote on Instagram. “I will show what Nicaraguans are made of: valor, courage and determination.”