This year is already off to a rough start, America. But at least we've got the Miss Universe pageant to watch on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 7/6c on Fox. The always-entertaining competition is sure to unite our country as we cheer on the reigning Miss USA 2016, Deshauna Barber, as she goes head-to-head with 85 other contestants vying for the crown to become the most "confidently beautiful" woman in the world, as the pageant's motto goes. So who is Miss USA 2016, and why does she demand your attention whether or not she takes home the Miss Universe title?
Well, not only did Barber accomplish the amazing feat of beating out 51 lovely ladies from around the country for the title of Miss USA 2016, but she's also making history and breaking down barriers in the process. It has seriously been a while since I've heard about a Miss USA title holder as inspirational as Barber.
So of course, I'm hoping that Barber wows the judges and is able to take home the Miss Universe crown this year, too. But really, I'm just glad that her victory in the Miss USA competition has enabled us to get to know Barber and give her a platform to raise awareness about many important issues.
She Stood Out In The Miss USA Competition
Many recappers agreed that Miss District of Columbia, Barber, was a frontrunner for the Miss USA 2016 title throughout the competition last June, so no one seemed that surprised when she eventually nabbed the crown at the end of the night. Barber oozed confidence during the swimwear round, owned the stage in a sparkly gold fringe number during evening wear, and wowed the crowd with her response praising the Pentagon's decision to open up all combat roles to women during the question-and-answer session. She even kept her freakin' cool as the Backstreet Boys serenaded the Top 3 contestants during their final lap around the stage before the official crowning took place. I mean, how could she not win?
She Serves In The US Army Reserve
Barber's answer during the interview portion of the Miss USA competition was not only powerful because of her words but also because she is actively serving in the U.S. Army Reserve. In fact, she is the first woman to win the Miss USA title to ever do so, according to her Miss Universe bio. Barber comes from a long line of military members. Her father served in the military for 24 years, and her mother and siblings have also worn uniforms, Barber says in the above video. She has spent her reign as Miss USA working with soldiers suffering from PTSD and concentrating on suicide prevention in the Armed Forces, her pageant bio says.
She's Had Quite The Busy Reign
The real question is: What hasn't Barber been doing as Miss USA? In addition to supporting the causes closest to her heart, Barber's life has also been filled with media appearances on Good Morning America, Live with Kelly, and The Daily Show, riding in parades, throwing out the first pitch at baseball games, and getting her very own day in Washington, D.C., as you can see in the above Instagram post. Barber has also gotten in some quality bonding time with the reigning Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach, walked in Sherri Hill's fashion show during New York Fashion Week last September, and was honored by Glamour as one of the 54 "amazing women" talking about "what it means to be an American woman in 2016." And yes, through all of that, Barber has been required to return to her post at the U.S. Army Reserve and train with her unit two days a month, she shared on Instagram. These days, Barber has been getting her glam on once again as she's in Manila preparing to battle it out for this year's Miss Universe title.
She Stands Up For What She Believes In
Since winning the title of Miss USA 2016, Barber has also used her platform as a good opportunity to speak out about what it truly means to be beautiful. Barber said that she has experienced prejudice in the military because of her race, gender, and body during an interview with MSNBC. She also told Cosmopolitan that she was bullied in school because of her small stature. Barber has also been the target of Internet trolls who posted racist comments after her Miss USA win, she recounted to HuffPost Black Voices. But if you read each of those interviews and others with Barber, she explains how soul-crushing instances like those helped her become tough and build up her self-confidence. Hopefully, Barber's win will broaden some people's scope of what it means to be beautiful.
She's Got High-Seas Glamour
Miss USA wasn't the only awesome title Barber received in 2016. She was also named godmother of Carnival Cruise Line's newest and largest ship at the time, Carnival Vista, the cruise line announced last October. Barber helped christen the ship in November in a ceremony that honored members of the military and their families and featured a performance by Carrie Underwood, USA Today reported. As you can see above, Barber also has some fab photos to show for it.
She Might Not Be A Pageant Queen Forever
Miss Universe is kind of as far as one can go in the pageant circuit, so after this year's competition and her reign as Miss USA ends, Barber might be looking for another hobby or even career path to occupy her time. Luckily, she's already thought of something she'd like to do. "I think I would make an awesome actress," Barber told Cosmopolitan. "Now that I really sit back and think, I just know that I'm not meant to be in a cubicle." Barber went on to say that if she could appear in anything right now, it would be her favorite TV show, Game of Thrones because she would "want to be in a different world." I have a feeling that Barber has a little Khaleesi in her, too.
But hopefully, the next crown that Barber receives is the one for winning this year's Miss Universe.