Saturday, February 7, 2009
Rasta Beauty Queen
(Article from From the Sidney Morning Herald, www.smh.com.au, written on May 21, 2007)
With dreadlocks down to below her buttocks, the first Rastafarian to compete for the Miss Universe title is out to smash the stereotype that Rastas are only interested in reggae and marijuana.
Zahra Redwood, 25 and the first Miss Jamaica to be crowned from the country's minority Rastafarian faith, is also shaking up a years-old view among many Rastas that beauty pageants should be shunned as degrading to women.
"Not all Rastafarians smoke" marijuana, Redwood, a classically beautiful Jamaican with a degree in biotechnology and zoology, told Reuters.
"People criticize what they don't know or understand and develop preconceptions, and so given that, I have gone against what they've developed as a stereotype," said Redwood, who is in Mexico for the Miss Universe final on May 28 in Mexico City.
Rastafarians -- who worship the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie as a God they call "Jah" -- stress peace, love, spiritual goals and natural living, Redwood said, denying a clash between Rasta culture and being a beauty queen.
"The Rastafarian culture and beauty pageants have a great deal in common because they both promote decorum in the attitude of the female and the female as a role model in society. You're looking at beauty of the mind, body and soul," she said.