Fanny Pack Fave: Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011

13 Sep

When thinking of Angola, for many, immediately images of 40o plus years of Portuguese occupation, a decades-long civil war and the worst infant mortality and life expectancy rates in the world likely come to mind.  But amongst the political and social ills plaguing this southwest-central African nation is its newly discovered former best kept secret.  No, I’m not talking about the country’s vast caches of diamonds and petroleum reserves, but its 2011 representative and very first winner of the Miss Universe Pageant, Leila Lopes.

For those who missed the NBC aired pageant last night, here is an Associated Press feature on the beauty:

SAO PAULO (AP) — Newly crowned Miss Universe Leila Lopes wants to help her native Angola further escape a history of war and impoverishment and said she plans to focus on combating HIV around the globe.

Speaking in a timid voice early Tuesday shortly after taking the crown in South America’s largest city, the 25-year-old Lopes said that “as Miss Angola I’ve already done a lot to help my people.”

“I’ve worked with various social causes. I work with poor kids,  I work in the fight against HIV.  I work to protect the elderly and I have to do everything that my country needs,” she said. “I think now as Miss Universe I will be able to do much more.”

Responding to questions, Lopes said that she has never had cosmetic surgery of any kind and that her three tips for beauty were to get a lot of sleep, use sunblock even when it’s not sunny and to drink lots of water.  She said her smile was her best weapon in the competition.

Asked about racism in light of the fact that she’s one of the few blacks ever crowned Miss Universe, Lopes said that “any racist needs to seek help.  It’s not normal in the 21st century to think in that way.”

Lopes is Angola’s first [Miss Universe Pageant] winner.  She beat out 88 other competitors to win the title during the 60th anniversary of the world’s biggest beauty pageant.  She replaces last year’s winner, Ximena Navarrete of Mexico.

[In Monday night’s finals] she deftly handled the interview question that was asked of the remaining top five contestants.  She was questioned about what physical trait she would change if she could.

“Thank God I’m very satisfied with the way God created me and I wouldn’t change a thing,” Lopes said.  “I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty.  I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I intend to follow these for the rest of my life.”

Now, who doesn’t love a well-spoken, insightful and self-aware inside-out beauty?  Congrats, Leila!

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