Victoria’s Maria Thattil was crowned Miss Universe Australia after taking part in the pageant virtually due to Melbourne's 112 day lockdown.
Thankfully, however, the easing of restrictions came at the perfect time, allowing the Indian Australian beauty to celebrate on Wednesday night.
The content creator and brand ambassador revealed she had never been interested in the Miss Universe Australia pageant, but the reason she entered this year was because of how diverse the finalists of last year's competition were, including winner Priya Serrao.
"I’m a little bit chuffed to be honest, I’m a little bit lost for words," Maria told the Herald Sun.
"Winning this title to me is an example. There are a number of norms that have been challenged and broken in order for me to sit here in front of you as your Miss Universe Australia today.
"It goes to show the power of the mind and the power of perspective can enable you to overcome any obstacle and any barrier to achieve what you set out to achieve. Doing this ultimately during a pandemic is proof of that."
Taking to Instagram on Thursday, Maria wrote about how grateful she is for "this privileged opportunity".
She thanked the other women in the competition, saying: "For the 27 National finalists. Our friendship transcends physical barriers - & I’m so truly humbled by this opportunity because it is a FACT that any of you could be wearing this sash, and we would well represented.
"For my Vic girls - who’s resilience and love makes me proud. You just have to look at their faces and the tightness of the hugs to know this is OUR win and I am so grateful that it will be your faces in my memories of this night who were by my side."
She continued: "I’m someone who loves responding to every message and comment I receive here - but the Universe has blessed me with so much abundance and love from you that it’s not humanly possible right now so I’ll say this.
"Australia - the work begins right now to do everything I can to represent our beauty and our power on a global scale. I’ll not only do everything I can to make you proud ... but to shake things up.
"I believe I represent a community of dreamers globally, of people who are here to challenge the culture scape to make new things possible. There are a number of norms that have been broken for me to stand here as a Miss Universe contestant - our reigning [Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi] told us to take up space. I’m telling you to not only take up space - but together we are going to CREATE new spaces. To break ground. To change the game."
Comments quickly flooded Maria's post with Zoe Foster Blake writing: "*Thunderous applause* You’ll do and make Australia so proud, Maria... It’s happening! You get to make the changes you wanna see!"
Another follower commented: "I’m so so so happy for you @mariathattil... honestly can’t think of a person who deserves this more. You are legit one of the sweetest people I’ve ever come across and I’m sure everyone else will agree. Im so proud for repping brown girls everywhere and can’t wait to see everything you’re doing to do next. GET IT SIS."
Someone else added: "No words just so so so proud of you girl!"
Former Miss Universe Australia Renae Ayris wrote: "Congrats lovely lady. You have a very exciting future ahead of you."
The Bachelor's Juliette Herrera added: “Our QUEEN!! Breaking barriers, being true to herself, fighting for others, heart of gold, humble, brilliant, kind and the leader Australia needs! Thank you for achieving something so many of us would think is impossible as [women of colour] in Australia! What a time to be alive!"
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