Tuesday, 16th July 2024

Janelle Commissiong, 1st Black Miss Universe from Trinidad, defies age at 71

When she won the 26th annual Miss Universe competition, she became the first black Miss Universe in the history of the prestigious pageant and the first Caribbean contestant to take home the beautiful crown.

Tuesday, 25th June 2024

Janelle Commissiong, 1st Black Miss Universe from Trinidad, defies age at 71 (PC - Instagram)

Trinidad and Tobago: Janelle Commissiong, the first Black Miss Universe crowned in 1977, looks the same even after 47 years of making history. Born on June 15, 1953, Commissiong is a Trinidadian politician, model & beauty queen.

When she won the 26th annual Miss Universe competition, she became the first black Miss Universe in the history of the prestigious pageant and the first Caribbean contestant to take home the beautiful crown.

At that time, it almost sounded like a fairy tale to Janelle because, for a long time, mostly European girls won this competition as the beauty world mostly focused on them. Those girls were considered the standard of beauty for a long time.

However, things started changing fast in favour of diversity and tolerance and in 1977, for the first time ever, a black girl won Miss Universe. Janelle was from the small Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago.

At that time, she was 24 and had never been on stage before. It is said that she didn’t even dream of being an actress or model.

At the age of 13, her parents decided to move to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago so she could get a good education. She loved fashion since she was a kid, so when she graduated high school, she went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and completed her studies there.

After ten years in the US, she went back to Trinidad to be a fashion designer following which she went into a local pageant without any expectations and won it which led her to entering Miss Trinidad and Tobago.

She won that too, which led her to compete in Miss Universe and until then, it was all just fun for Janelle and the competition offered big prizes for the winner, so all the contestants saw it as a great opportunity but the Trinidadian girl didn’t think she could win.

Back then, the media treated the white contestants differently from the women of color, and black contestants weren’t even named in the newspapers.

Janelle had never seen a dark skinned woman on the cover of any international magazine. She felt there was a gap between her and the other contestants because of her skin color.

At that time, she also said, “Me and my black colleagues thought we were just there to fill the numbers, and the disparity made me feel like I was a second-class citizen for the first time in my life.”

Janelle focused on black rights and also on world peace. Her answers were always very intelligent and thoughtful, and she impressed many people with her kind heart and intelligence. A few days before the final night, Janelle was elected Miss Photogenic, becoming the first black person to hold this title in the history of the pageant.

During the final night, Janelle kept advancing to the next round, but she still didn’t believe that she had any chance of winning. And yet, in her gold evening gown, she looked stunning.

When she was crowned Miss Universe 1977, she was the first ever black recipient of this title. Everyone was shocked when this ordinary girl, who had never stepped on stage before, became the winner.

However, at that time, not everyone in society was ready for such changes. A person of color was not a typical beauty, said Janelle in an interview.

Instagram will load in the frontend.

After winning, her life completely changed, and the whole world was talking about her because this victory marked the beginning of new trends in the world of beauty for girls of different appearances and nationalities began to appear in magazines and advertising.