What is the controversy surrounding Miss Jamaica’s loss?

by Kyla Bryant (Staff Writer) – 3/4/15

Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennel during the swimwear portion of the competition
                                     Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennel during the swimwear portion of the competition

In a competition that encourages women from all over the world to come together in one room and showcase their diversity, how does the “most unique” contestant go from being favored to win to coming in as 4th runner up?

Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant that women from different countries travel to the United States for in order to represent their country and showcase their beauty, all  in the hopes of being crowned Miss Universe.

On January 25, 2015 Paulina Verga of Columbia was crowned the honorary 2014 Miss Universe, beating out 87 other contestants, including fan favorite and predicted winner 22 year old Kaci Fennel from Kingston, Jamaica. Verga’s win has been questioned by many since the crowning ceremony and left people wondering how an “edgy” beauty from Jamaica was beat when she was expected to win.

The sheer shock of Fennel’s lost was shown at the Miss Universe crowing ceremony in Doral, Miami when spectators booed as Paulina Verga was given the crown. The reaction from people at the ceremony was the first time any one has been booed at a Miss Universe pageant.

America Ismerio, an at-home spectator of the competition was shocked by the reaction that Miss Verga received. “I couldn’t believe that Miss Columbia was booed when she went up for her crown; it was honestly hard to watch. But I wasn’t happy at seeing her win. Miss Jamaica had all the qualities. She was so confident and her look was different way different than any one else’s.”

Like Ismerio, thousands of at home viewers, bloggers, and supporters of Kaci Fennel were in disbelief when the short haired, “black beauty” wasn’t crowned Miss Universe. Fennel’s lost has paved the way for many to debate whether or not her appearance, more specifically her race, had anything to do with it.

However critics and journalists who were present at the event insist that Fennel’s race not in fact have anything to do with her coming in fifth. Instead they claim that “Miss Fennel was denied the title after she proudly called Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest short-distance runner, and reggae-king Bob Marley, her country’s greatest contributions to the world.

For a competition that prides it’s self on diversity, only four black women have won the title of Miss Universe since its start in 1952. The first black Miss Universe was crowned in 1977, nearly 25 years after the start of the first beauty pageant. This small portion of colored women who have won the pageant plays a factor in why people are analyzing the lost of Miss Jamaica.

“I’ve been watching the Miss Universe pageant’s for years with my mom, and as a black girl I would’ve loved to see someone of color represent us in a positive way. I watched the competition closely and I don’t see how Miss Jamaica lost. In my opinion, I kind of have to wonder if race played a factor,” Kennedy High School junior Victoria Epps explained.