Miss Universe pageants have long been criticised.
Some see them as outdated and offensive, while others consider them completely irrelevant.

It's understandable.
In years gone by pageants have played host to the demeaning swimsuit competition and, in some countries, to a stubborn lack of diversity among contestants.

I personally didn't hold them in a particularly high regard.
Until Saturday night, that is.

Read more: Miss Universe New Zealand contestant breaking stereotypes
Napier woman Harlem-Cruz Atarangi Ihaia wins Miss Universe New Zealand


When Napier's Harlem-Cruz Atarangi Ihaia was crowned Miss Universe NZ.
As you would expect, it was an almost blindingly colourful and glamorous announcement.
But amongst the confetti, bouquets and silk sashes was something that offered so much more than an all-out assault on the senses.

It was a message from a young woman that dragged pageants even further into the 21st century.
The new Miss Universe NZ said she hoped to create a new perception of beauty.

"To break the image of every young teenager wanting to be the next Kylie Jenner, I just want to prove that we can all be ourselves and to inspire, hopefully, the world."

Miss Ihaia previously told Hawkes' Bay Today the main reason she entered the contest was to inspire females in her family and other young Maori women.

It made me look at pageants in an entirely different way.
Sure, pageants like these could still be perceived as demeaning and sexist.

But, rather than simply don the crown, smile and wave.
Miss Ihaia used her platform, however credible we chose to consider it, for good.

To break a stereotype from within, displace sexism for feminism, and, hopefully, offer clarity and belief to other young women.