First Queens of the Major International Beauty Pageants

22 May 2020 | Ana Walia

The delegates who have represented their respective countries at the major international beauty pageants including at Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss Earth, Miss International, and Miss Supranational have shown immense potential, confidence, and dedication to not only make their marking in the international platform but also to change the way society anticipates a woman. Initially, these beauty pageants concluded the winner based on their physical attributes but now, the pageants have started to empower and encourage women across the world to step up and leave their strong marking on the audience. The beauty pageants hold a very special significance in every woman who aspires to be a beauty queen as it is a platform which helps not only make them win the title and make their countrymen proud but also carry out the advocacy, they deeply believe in.

With their strong opinions, determination, and intelligence, the gorgeous diva who represent their country work very hard to perform their best at the competition. The beauty pageants have started to hold some pre-pageant activities for which the divas have to be focused, strong willed, and reday to take on any challenge.

But, here are the first queens who not only performed beautifully but also were the winners of the major international beauty pageants which not only changed the lives of these women but also the ones who look up to these role model.  

Armi Kuusela represented Finland at Miss Universe 1952 on 28th June 1952 at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium in Long Beach, California, United States. She was the first ever Miss Universe pageant winner. She is a Finnish charity worker, model, and beauty queen. When Kuusela won Finland's national pageant, Suomen Neito, on 24 May 1952, she was awarded a box of chocolates, a gold bangle, and a return ticket sponsored by Pan American Airways to the United States. After her winning there was a Finnish movie made of her, called Maailman kaunein tyttö [The World's Most Beautiful Girl] where she played herself, and Tauno Palo played the role of Jack Coleman. It was directed by Veikko Itkonen, with writing credits going to Mika Waltari. Less than a year after being crowned, Kuusela chose to give up her Miss Universe crown on 4th May 1953 to marry Hilario in Tokyo after a whirlwind courtship. Today, Armi spends her life out in public with her husband in La Jolla, a couple of hours drive from Los Angeles, near San Diego, California. She actively participates for various charitable work. She serves on the board of the Burnham Institute, which focuses on cancer research, and on the governing bodies of many arts and cultural organizations.


Armi Kuusela


Kiki Håkansson represented Sweden at Miss World 1951 on 29th July 1951 at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, United Kingdom. She was the first ever Miss World winner and the only winner to be crowned in a bikini. After Miss World Organization headed by Later Eric Morley organized mid-century advertisement for swimwear at the Festival of Britain, Håkansson wore a bikini during the crowning ritual, after which she was condemned by the Pope, and some countries with religious traditions threatened to withdraw delegates. In 1952, bikinis were banned from the pageant and replaced with more modest swimwear.


Kiki Håkansson


Catharina Svensson represented Denmark at Miss Earth 2001 on 28th October 2001 at the University of the Philippines Theater in Quezon City, Philippines. Catharina is a Danish lawyer, a professional equestrienne, model, and beauty queen from Charlottenlund. She is the first ever winner of Miss Earth beauty pageant. The diva carries a dual citizenship; Swedish and Danish. After she was crowned Miss Earth 2001, she continued her studies and eventually became a lawyer. During her question and answer round, she gave the best answer to the final question on finding a balance between technology and earth preservation, the judges said. "Of course, technology makes life easier, but it also has its share of problems. But we can do something to make it better," she said. Svensson also cited her country's rich farming industry which uses technology in research and chemicals for its produce. She advocated during the coronation night to stay focused on the noble cause of promoting environmental conservation.


Catharina Svensson


Stella Márquez represented Colombia at Miss International 1960 on 12th August 1960 at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium in Long Beach, California, United States. She was the first Miss International. In 1957, Marquez gained an honorary prize as a beauty model for Pan American Airlines, though not necessarily a pageant contest. She also represented as Miss Honduras on a local Los Angeles pageant due to its lack of national entry. During her stay in Colombia, Marquez learned the value of social work and became acquainted with the local Roman Catholic Church there to fund charities. The first charity she helped manage was named "Banquet of the Millionaires" through the assistance of a famed Catholic priest, Father Rafael García Herreros. She represented Colombia at Miss Universe 1960 where she was placed at Top 15 at the end of the event finale. She later represented Colombia at Miss International 1960 where she was crowned as the winner.  Marquez decided to her use her fame to work and was hired as a tourist promoter for a European tour package company, as well as an endorser for the New Year’s Day 1961 Rose Bowl and 72nd Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, California, where she also met her future husband, Jorge Leon Araneta.Since 1964, she has been the organizer of Binibining Pilipinas, which sends its winners to represent the Philippines at Miss Universe and Miss International competitions. Araneta is also a principal sponsor to the wedding of Miss Philippines 2011 Shamcey Supsup. In 2019, after fifty years of service, Supsup succeeded Araneta for the national franchise of Miss Universe Philippines. In 2013, Araneta was inducted to the Eastwood City Walk of Fame in Quezon City, Philippines.


Stella Márquez


Oksana Moria represented Ukraine at Miss Supranational 2009 on 5th September 2009 in Plock, Poland. She worked as a student-model in Ukraine and loves swimming, travelling and being a make-up artist. She is active on social media where she posts glimpses about her life. In one of her pots, remembering her stint at Miss Supranational, Oksana stated, “Miss Supranational is not only about external beauty, but also about internal.” She lives in Spain with her beautiful family and tries to motivate and encourage the aspiring beauty queens with her wisdom.


Oksana Moria