Beyonce's reign as the "Most Beautiful Woman in the World" may only be two days old, but as the second-ever black woman to take the crown (following Halle Berry, who graced People magazine's cover in 2003) it's safe to say the title is some nine years in the making.
Halle Berry ... and Beyoncé are the only two black women to hold the honor in 22 years. A look back at the celebrities People has called "most beautiful" reveals that past honorees are ladies like Meg Ryan, Nicole Kidman and Cindy Crawford. Michelle Pfeiffer has been called Most Beautiful twice; Julia Roberts has been the cover gal four times. Jennifer Lopez, the 2011 Most Beautiful, is the lone Latina on the list. And there have been zero Asian women.
While Jezebel went on to question why Beyonce and Berry were chosen -- for their light skin tones and Anglo-Saxon features, perhaps -- The Huffington Post spoke with Crystal McCrary, author of Inspiration: Profiles Of Black Women Changing The World, for a look at other women who could easily make the cut.
Like Jezebel, McCrary doesn't discount Beyonce's beauty -- citing personal encounters with the singer that revealed "an amazing beauty, disarming kindness and no sense of entitlement whatsoever" -- but adds these seven women to the top of her list for reasons that are more than skin deep.
Who would you put on your list?
"We certainly know, Ruby's body of work as an actor, as an activist, as a wife, as a mother is really unprecedented."
"Misty Copeland, the only black soloist with the American Ballet Theater Company, is outrageously talented but hands down beautiful ... and a prodigy. She kind of reminds me, with her humility and enormous talent, of Beyonce. Just someone who is so committed to her craft and so at the top of their game, but so humble. Their ambition is manifested by them just getting the job done."
"In my opinion, she hasn't only gotten better every year, Michelle Obama exponentially ups her game like every week. Talk about someone who, from private life, got thrown into the deep end. To have to so carefully choose every word, every outfit, every cause ... she's just walked this line brilliantly. She exudes such a completeness as a woman that we can all aspire to."
"Mary is someone who was raised in such a tough environment, who had so many challenges and, as she will say, was brought up in a neighborhood of girls who could <em>all</em> sing. For her to get past her inner demons and to find her voice and her confidence, but never really compromise who she is, [is inspiring]."
"She essentially is the top black female Hollywood producer out there. Someone like Debra, who is just so brilliant and razor sharp and has really played hardball in a man's game in Hollywood, which is uber competitive, and succeeded, is incredibly inspiring and beautiful ... inside and out."
"Iman knew her value at 19 years old when she was in Nairobi and Peter Beard spotted her and wanted her to come to the United States to take photos. She always knew 'I have value and I'm not one of those people who is going to jump at anything thrown my way. I'm going to assess the situation and figure out how it honors what my worth is -- as a woman, as a human and potentially as a model.' That's how she has lived her life and I find that to be incredibly inspiring."
"Muhammad Ali's daughter entered a man's profession as a boxer and had the confidence and fearlessness (and yes, talent) to really make history. And [she's still] a gorgeous woman and incredibly ladylike."