Cover Bernadette Belle Wu Ong's #StopAsianHate outfit (Photo: @missuniverse.sg/Instagram)

Bernadette Belle Ong makes a fashion—and political—statement with her choice of costume at the Miss Universe pageant last night

The annual Miss Universe contest is always a highly-anticipated affair and this year is no different, complete with plenty of camp and circumstance. But the stakes got higher in the national costume segment of the night, with contestants looking to shine a spotlight on the political issues of their countries or communities. Myanmar’s candidate Thuzar Wint Lwin raised a banner towards the end of her walk that read "Pray for Myanmar," highlighting the violent clashes in February when military forces seized and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of the National League for Democracy.

See also: Hillary Clinton, Lucy Liu, Lea Salonga Come Together To Stop Asian Hate

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong, however, fully incorporated her message into the costume itself, calling attention to the #StopAsianHate movement through a dazzling bodysuit and with the hashtag on a flowing cape. She explains the message through a post on her Instagram account: 

"This year’s national costume is inspired by the Singapore flag. The red of the flag represents universal fellowship, and white purity. These ideals ring true not just for Singapore but also at an international competition like Miss Universe that brings women together to empower each other and address important issues. #stopasianhate"

Ong goes on to remind audiences of Singapore's cosmopolitan nature where communities of different ethnicities and religious practices live in harmony. "Our peaceful social fabric is built on respect for all races, languages and religions. ? We stand tall and raise our voice for democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality. This is what makes Singapore thrive as a multicultural, inter-religious nation."

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