By Lucia Suarez Sang, ,
Published December 30, 2016
In just a few days Gabriela Isler will be able to trade in her high heels for flats and a glittering crown to a simple hair tie.
The 5-foot-10 Venezuelan, the 62nd Miss Universe, will once again become a normal girl when she crowns a new beauty queen on Sunday.
She is happy the pressure will be off this time around when she hits the stage, she told Fox News Latino, and plans to enjoy every single second of the competition.
“The other girls have to worry about eating salads and I can have my pork legs,” she said. “I can have arepas and cachapas whenever I want.”
Before getting the title, she was just a simple girl — "no makeup, no hair, no heels, just a normal girl finishing my education," Isler said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"This just changed my life. This made me feel confidently beautiful. ... Now I'm happy with myself every day. I learned to be happy. I grew up in every way, as a daughter, as a sister, as a girlfriend, as a friend. It transformed my life," she said.
Isler has carried the Venezuelan flag with pride over her reign and hopes to return to her native country that has been battling shocking levels of inflation and shortages of basic goods.
The 26-year-old said her family is doing OK, although they are living through hardship. “My family, like the whole country, is doing huge lines to find food, struggling to find medicine. This is the reality of Venezuela.”
She continued: “This is a reality that we cannot cover with a finger … This is affecting all classes. I would like something better for my country – we have to work for it together.”
It is serendipitous that Isler is ending her reign in Doral, Florida, which has the largest Venezuelan population outside of the South American country. The beauty queen said it’s almost like a “welcome home” for her.
“I couldn’t ask for a better place to finish my chapter as Miss Universe,” she said. “I can find arepas and my Venezuelan food at any corner. I have all my people here. It just feels like home.”
When asked if there as a day that stood out from others during the reign, Isler was quick to choose Sept. 3, the day she went to the Vatican and received a blessing from the pontiff.
"I was not able to sleep the day before because I was so excited," Isler told The Associated Press. "I couldn't believe it was real. I was like, 'Really, I'm going to meet the Pope?' I went to the Vatican and I couldn't stop crying and I could cry again. It was a dream. ... I was in tears. I didn't know I was awake. ... That day I realized, this was real."
As for the pageant on Sunday, Isler said that viewers should expect a beautiful competition and that she hopes the crown will stay with a Latina for another year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.