Here’s a Thing I Never Thought I’d See

by O Society Dec 17, 2018

First off, congratulations to Catriona Gray. This year’s Miss Universe was born in Australia, yet represents her Philippine heritage. After finishing high school in Australia, she moved to Manila.

Adriana Paniagua and Catriona Gray learning Muay Thai at Grudam Gym, Bangkok, Thailand.

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Gray was crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2018, and also Miss World Philippines in 2016. The talented star earned a black belt in Choi Kwang-Do martial arts at the age of 12 and was a jazz singer while still in school.

Here she does the “lava walk.” Gray developed the now-iconic Lava Walk with the choreographer Carlos Buendia, and it was named after the beauty queen’s birthplace Bicol, which has the Mayon Volcano.

Ms. Gray is amazingly talented and is certainly not the first gorgeous Filipina martial artist we have ever seen. This woman is Moro:

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So what’s new?

There are some things you just don’t expect to live long enough to see happen in your own lifetime.

For example, I never thought I’d live to see the day a black man was voted President of the United States. Simply saying I didn’t realize Americans had evolved far enough culturally speaking where they would elect an African-American president. We did, which says something for Americans.

Now today, I see something else I never thought I’d see. Angela is Miss Spain. She’s a trans- beauty queen. Here she is. Wow!

Angela Ponce of Spain in the swimsuit competition during the 2018 Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok on Dec. 13. (Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)

In the wake of a Victoria’s Secret fashion show that many feel failed on the inclusivity front, Spain’s Angela Ponce is poised to make history as the first transgender woman to compete in Miss Universe. The program, which airs at 7 p.m. EST on Sunday from Bangkok, is a star-studded event that will feature Steve Harvey as onstage host, Ashley Graham backstage, and Ne-Yo as the lead performer.

After earning title of Miss Spain in June, beating out 22 other competitors, Ponce told the Associated Press she hopes to use her platform to fight for better rights for transgender people. “If my going through all this contributes to the world moving a little step forward, then that’s a personal crown that will always accompany me,” said Ponce.

Ponce spoke with Time in late November, and shed light on the issues she’s faced as a transgender model. “The fashion industry likes to talk about freedom and creativity. But many times I’ve gone to a casting and they’ve given me the job, and then later my agency calls and says they’ve changed their minds, because they’ve found out I’m a trans woman,”said Ponce. “I would just burst into tears.”

She also addressed the controversy with Victoria’s Secret, in which an executive publicly stated he wouldn’t cast transgender models in the brand’s main show. Ponce told Time, “I’d say if trans women can’t walk in Victoria’s Secret shows, then they should put a sign on all their storefronts saying: No trans women. If they don’t want us to model for them, they shouldn’t want us to buy their products. That implies I’m just a man dressed as a woman.”

Miss Universe, a show formerly owned by Donald Trump, once held a ban on transgender contestants — which was officially lifted in 2012. Although Trump no longer owns it, Ponce said winning Miss Universe would be hugely symbolic. “More than a message to [Trump], it would be a win for human rights,” Ponce told Time. “Trans women have been persecuted and erased for so long. If they give me the crown, it would show trans women are just as much women as cis women.”

Read more:

Body-positive influencers respond to the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

On Dec. 2, the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show aired on ABC. Although in recent years the broadcast has attracted criticism for its lack of body diversity on the runway, it faced additional scrutiny because of comments made by the brand’s executives ahead of the 2018 taping.

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