According to the Miss Universe website, Barber is 26 years old and 5 feet 10 inches tall. She was born in Columbus, Georgia, but moved multiple times due to her father’s military career. She eventually settled in the District of Colombia, which is the state she represented in the 2016 Miss USA pageant.
Barber told The Washington Post, “I’m being able to say that no one pageant girl does the same thing or has the same background, and I’m also saying that no one soldier has the same background and does the same thing. That we can be feminine, we can be in beauty contests, we can be models. So there’s stereotypes on both sides that I feel like I’m breaking by even being here and being able to compete for Miss USA.”
Barber is a Logistics Commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit at Fort Meade, Maryland, according to the Miss Universe website. She currently works as an IT analyst for the U.S. Department of Commerce. She was first commissioned as a Quartermaster Officer in 2011 after graduating with a degree in Business Management from Virginia State University.
Barber intends to focus her reign as Miss USA on spreading awareness about veteran PTSD and getting soldiers the help they need when they return home. When asked what she was most excited about after winning, ABC reports that Barber said, “Making sure they have what they need when they return from deployment. My best friend is currently deployed in Afghanistan and I want to make sure when she comes back, she has the resources she needs to heal any internal mental scars she has.”
During the interview portion of the competition, Barber was asked her thoughts on the Pentagon’s recent decision to open up all government jobs to women. And she slayed with her answer. “As a woman in the United States Army, I think it is an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate into every branch of the military.” She continued, “We are just as tough as men. As a commander of my unit I am powerful, I am dedicated and it’s important to recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States Army.”
Barber inspired everyone with her spot-on speech during the interview portion of the competition. “To me, confidently beautiful means understanding it’s not always about your appearance. It’s not always about who you are around and how they feel you look, where they feel you come from or your economic background. Serving in the military has taught me that being confidently beautiful is about being able to earn respect from people regardless of what you look like. As a woman in the military, people associate beauty with weakness and they learn very quickly that I’m extremely strong, and though I’m small, I’m powerful. Confidently beautiful is being myself and being very happy with who I’ve become.”
After her big win, Barber took to Instagram to express her excitement at moving to New York and beginning her journey as Miss USA 2016. “This is so surreal,” she said in the video. “I’m moving to New York tomorrow and I cannot wait for this reign to start. I look forward to meeting all my fans.”
Barber is a confident and intelligent woman who works hard at everything she’s got, including her killer swimsuit body. “Swimsuit was probably my favorite part; I worked hard on this body,” she said, according to ABC.
Barber did not hold back the tears when she was crowned Miss USA 2016. She told E! the reason behind her tears. “It was so emotional. It’s been a dream that I’ve had for a few years now. I’ve been competing in pageants for a long time. And I’ve watched so many Miss USA’s walk across this stage and inspire so many women around the world, and I knew that it was something I wanted to do. Now that I have the opportunity, it was really hard to hide my emotions.”