“Through Her Eyes” is a weekly show hosted by human rights activist Zainab Salbi that explores contemporary news issues from a female perspective. You can watch the full episode of “Through Her Eyes” every Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Roku, or at the bottom of this article.
Newly crowned Miss USA Cheslie Kryst had a quick answer when asked if she would have competed in the pageant under President Trump’s ownership: “I’m not sure.”
Trump co-owned the organization — which includes the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants — for almost 20 years before selling his ownership in 2015 following backlash that met his presidential campaign announcement, in which he labeled many Mexican immigrants “rapists.”
And Trump’s controversies in the pageant world go back even further. In 1997 he publicly lambasted the reigning Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, for gaining weight. During his presidential campaign he attacked Machado again, urging the public to “check out [her] sex tape.”
In contrast, Kryst has made headlines for fighting against sexual harassment in the workplace. She defended the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements while competing for her Miss USA crown, and video of the moment onstage in Reno, Nev., went viral.
“I don’t think these movements have gone too far. What #MeToo and #TimesUp are about are making sure that we foster safe and inclusive workplaces in our country,” she said at the pageant. “As an attorney, that’s exactly what I want to hear, and that’s exactly what I want for this country.”
Kryst elaborated on the issue during an interview with “Through Her Eyes.”
“I don't think it's about man- or men-shaming,” she said. “Instead, what the movements are about is making sure that the men — or the women — who make our workplaces dangerous and unwelcoming are punished for that.”
Yet even without Trump at the helm, the Miss Universe Organization continues to receive some criticism and allegations of sexism. While the Miss America pageant decided to eliminate the swimsuit portion of its competition, the Miss USA pageant has chosen to keep the tradition, which some critics say objectifies women.
Kryst, who says she is a feminist, disagrees.
“Today's woman should have the option to do anything she wants,” she said. “If that means being a stay-at-home mom, do that. If that means wearing your skirt, wear it. But you should have the opportunity to have that choice and to make that choice regardless of what anybody else thinks.”
Listen to the full episode on the “Through Her Eyes” podcast, and listen to past interviews with Queen Latifah, Aly Raisman, and more from season 1.