First Indigenous model in history makes the finals of Miss World Australia 2016

12:56:00 PM

"As a young Yolngu woman growing up on the tip of Australia I have big dreams and want to do so much for my people here in Yirrkala."

For the first time in the competition's history, an indigenous model has been selected to represent the Northern Territory at the Miss World Australia national finals. Maninydjama Maymuru is the first ever indigenous model to make it to the finals of Miss World Australia.

The 19-year-old Maymuru will represent Northern Territory in Miss World Australia which will be held in July. She goes by name Magnolia in the modelling industry. Maymuru comes from the remote community of Yirrkala in Est Arnhem Land.

"I don't read magazines or go onto E! News. I'm more of an outdoorsy girl. I like to hunt and go camping and go netting with my family," she said.

Maymuru was spotted by the director of NT Fashion Week, Mehali Tsangaris. She was seen taking money out of an ATM in Darwin in 2014. She was offered a job by Tsangaris under his management but she rejected it. Last year, Tsangaris saw her again and convinced her to take his offer. Her first modelling show was at NT Fashion week in October that year, and she has since done other work, including entering Miss World.

 “I’m very nervous,” she said. “It’s the first time I’ll be representing my state in such a well-known event and I know a lot of people will be watching me. My family at home, all of Arnhem Land … and all over Australia.”

Maymuru currently works as a recreational officer for children in her community and is passionate about the education and development of younger generations. She says that she is using this opportunity to inspire young Australians.

While being very happy for the opportunity, Maymuru, who is very connected to her culture, told NITV about how she wants to transition into the modelling industry gradually and carefully.

"Culture is very important up here and Arnhem Land is made up of different people, different languages and different communities," she says.

"Depending on which tribe we come from, which totems or skin name that we have, there are specific things that we can't use or do," 

"Before I do anything, like even wearing some clothing with a particular animal on it, I talk to my family, because I don't want to offend anyone in my community or from another tribe. Since I got the opportunity, my family and I have talked about the difference of living up here and going down south and thinking of the best ways that I can blend culture, so that its respectful and there are no cultural misunderstandings."

“I feel very privileged and thankful that I was chosen for this. I just want to do my best and hopefully be a really good role model and inspire many young people.”

Miss World is the oldest, one of the largest and leading international beauty pageant and hosts a variety of stunning ambassadors from 130 different countries. But this year, a young woman from Yirrkala is pioneering diversity in Miss World Australia. Magnolia Maymuru is a Yolngu woman representing her home state, Northern Territory in the event, competing for a chance to be crowned Miss Australia. Hopefully she will be  the first of many traditional Indigenous Australians to challenge beauty standards.

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