Forward-thinking, relevant and pro-feminist, those are not the usual charges leveled at beauty pageants. But Miss Cayman Islands Universe said that was exactly her experience at the Miss Universe finals last month in Thailand.
But the pageant was not without its controversies.
“I think it’s an amazing platform and you’re able to use your voice to inspire other young girls to get involved in their community. I think it’s such a positive force,” Ms. Tyson stated on returning home to Cayman after the competition.
But just days before the Miss Universe finals, Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers made headlines for all the wrong reasons, when Instagram videos surfaced in which she made derogatory comments about some of the South East Asian contestants’ English-speaking abilities.
But Caitlin Tyson said Miss USA had owned her mistake and that even beauty queens are fallible.
“I understand sometimes putting your foot in your mouth and having to go back and say: ‘I didn’t mean it that way and I’m sorry’. And there’s nothing wrong with that, if you make a mistake,” Ms. Tyson said.
She went on to clarify that “taking the responsibility shows that you’re a strong woman.”
Additionally, while the Miss Universe pageant has not been owned by Donald Trump since 2015, some maintain that the association still tarnishes the competition.
Ms. Tyson said that era is in the past.
“Honestly I did have my reservations going into it,” Ms. Tyson conceded, qualifying: “but the work that IMG is doing is really amazing and they’re opening doors for inclusion and diversity.”
As a symptom of the modern Miss Universe, Miss Cayman pointed to Miss Spain, the pageant’s first transgender competitor.
Not for her is the stereotype of mean girl beauty queens; she said female solidarity is a cause she champions.
“You think you’re in direct competition with one another and it’s going to be catty and all these things. I don’t think we ever wrote that story for ourselves, I think it’s very important to be your sister’s keeper,” Ms. Tyson advised.
So while the pageant may be over, Miss Cayman Universe said the experience will stay with her forever.