Cheslie Kryst is only one week into her reign as Miss USA, but she’s already redefining what it means to be a beauty queen. Yesterday, we caught up with the North Carolina native aboard a gray line City Sightseeing New York double-decker, where she told ESSENCE she wants to help reshape people’s perception of pageantry.
When you think of the contestants who compete for a title like Miss USA, you rarely think of a 28-year-old lawyer.
“There are so many women that think women who compete in pageants are shallow, and that we’re all about what we look like,” says Kryst. “But there are so many multidimensional women who I’ve competed with and so many women with great depth.”
Being a Litigation Attorney and former Division 1 athlete, Kryst has already transcended pageantry stereotypes, proving that being beauty queen translates to smarts, a bit of athleticism, and a clear understanding of who you are. And more significantly, it means being a proud Black woman.
When asked what she would tell Black girls who don’t feel pretty enough to compete because of their skin color or hair texture, she suggested learning to be proud of who you are.
“Be you and wear your melanin proudly. I think the people who accomplish the most and who are really trailblazers in their respective fields, are people who refused to apologize for who they were. So, you have to find your sense of self. Be proud of who you are and be proud of being a Black woman.”