The world finally has a new Miss Universe after the pageant was delayed for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miss Mexico Andrea Meza was crowned the winner at the show Sunday night.
The ceremony took place at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida and was hosted by former Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo and Mario Lopez.
During an appearance on "Good Morning America" on Monday morning, Meza said she realized her dream of taking home the crown when she was around 15 years old -- after Mexican actress Ximena Navarrete won the Miss Universe 2010 title.
"I used to think that Mexican people were not able to get to these places and to be in these high positions, and after she won, she changed the mindset that I had," Meza explained.
However, while Navarrete's win encouraged her, Meza still struggled with insecurities that prevented her from immediately chasing her dream.
"I didn't feel capable of doing this -- I always thought that I was not pretty enough, that I was not smart enough, and I was afraid of being in front of cameras or microphones, so let's just say that it was an impossible dream that I had," she shared. "But I started growing up and I decided that this was the path I needed to take in order to get out of my comfort zone and keep growing."
Congratulations to the new @MissUniverse Miss Mexico Andrea Meza! #MissUniverse pic.twitter.com/J2BHsAp64D— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 17, 2021
Meza also spoke about why it was important to her to highlight her software engineering degree during the pageant.
"In order to be represented or an ambassador of your country, you have to be prepared, and it doesn't matter the career that you choose -- I mean, I'm an engineer -- we have doctors, we have administrators, and the amazing thing about Miss Universe is that we have all these well-prepared women that want to talk about what they do in their normal life and inspire other women out there."
During the competition Sunday, other remarks that stood out were Meza's response In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which postponed last year's pageant. She was asked what she would have done had she been in charge of keeping her country safe.
"I believe there is not a perfect way to handle this hard situation such as COVID-19," the beauty queen admitted. "However, I believe that what I would have done, was create the lockdown even before everything was that big because we lost so many lives and we cannot afford that. We have to take care of our people."
"That's why I would have taken care of them since the beginning," she closed.
She also shared her stance on the beauty industry, noting how it plays a crucial role in dismantling harmful stereotypes.
"Nowadays, beauty is not only the way we look," she noted in her final statement. "For me, beauty radiates not only in our spirit, but in our hearts and the way we conduct ourselves. Never permit someone to tell you that you are not valuable."
- 2December 9, 2019
During her "GMA" appearance, Meza shared more of her thoughts on how she can use her position to continue reshaping beauty standards in society.
"I like to think that I am perfect the way I am," she said. "I am not the tallest, I am not the skinniest or the perfect body, and I always believe that beauty comes in different packages, and we all are different and we understand that. We can embrace ourselves and we can feel good about ourselves."
"If you see my social media, yeah you can find pictures where I'm looking fabulous, but I also like to show them the real me -- the real Andrea and the normal activities, having a normal look -- and make them understand that not everything is about glamor. It's not everything is about how you look. It's about who you are. It's about what you do, and what are you doing to help your society and help yourself."
In this year's competition, Miss Brazil a.k.a. Julia Gama was named runner-up while Janick Macet, Miss Peru, finished third.
Meza inherits the crown from 2019's winner Zozibini Tunzi, who was Miss South Africa.