MISS Venezuela was the fairest of them all once again, winning the 2009 Miss Universe crown for the second year straight and the sixth time since the pageant’s creation.
Dressed in a flowing red gown, 18-year-old Stefania Fernandez hugged the runner-up from the Dominican Republic and danced in joy as her victory was announced in Nassau, The Bahamas, on Sunday.
The crown briefly fell to the floor as it passed from one Venezuelan beauty to the next. But Fernandez said there was time for outgoing Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza to whisper in her ear that she must have worked hard for Venezuela to win consecutive crowns.
“What do we Venezuelans have?” Fernandez, an international relations student, replied to reporters after the pageant. “That we are ourselves.”
The other top-five finalists were runner-up Dominican Ada Aimee de la Cruz, followed by Miss Kosovo, Droga Ganusha; Miss Australia, Rachael Finch; and Miss Puerto Rico, Mayra Matos Perez.
During a question-and-answer segment with the five top finalists, Fernandez said she believed women had overcome obstacles such as hitting the proverbial glass ceiling.
“I feel we have reached the level that men are at,” she said.
The new Miss Universe is from the city of Merida in the west of a beauty-obsessed South American country where hard-fought pageants are something of a national sport, with contestants widely dissected by the public and the media.