27/03/2017 14:45 SAST | Updated 28/03/2017 09:38 SAST

The Frivolous Spectacle Of Miss South Africa

WTF is a proportional body anyway?

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Surely in this day and age, something as huge as the Miss South Africa pageant should have evolved to be more inclusive in terms of the type of woman that get to enter the competition?

A lot of women have been calling the pageant out for what it is: a major contributor to the prevalent objectification of women and the exclusion of those who do not seem to fit the "type" of entrant.

On the Miss SA FAQ page, they mention the kind of entrant they are looking for and she needs to:

  • be at least 18 years of age to enter at close of the entries, and not older than 25 years of age.
  • be a South African citizen and be in possession of a valid South African passport or ID document
  • be in the possession of a matric certificate or equivalent qualification
  • not be married and never had a marriage annulled
  • not be engaged
  • never have given birth to a child and not be pregnant
  • not have any visible tattoos
  • have no criminal record

These criteria are problematic. So if you had a child in your teens, you are immediately eliminated, also God forbid you went and got yourself inked — what were you thinking?! And basically, anyone engaged or married has love to blame for their exclusion in a competition that claims to celebrate women. It doesn't end there, women who enter the competition must ensure that their body is in proportion... uhm? What does this even mean?

It is no secret that Miss SA is not fully representational of the South African woman and how she looks. Many people on social media are saying they want to see a whole LOT more than what the pageant is currently showcasing, they want to see people whom they can relate to and whom they interact with on a day-to-day basis.

The stereotypes in these pageants are really strong, the most pertinent one being the physical beauty of the models and their body size. This seems to have been the consistent trend since the beginning of time. The typical pageant girl is tall, skinny and beautiful and we are told that this is representative of us as South African women — what a joke.

The fact that the competition was aired on Mzansi Magic (channel 161) as opposed to SABC had various responses, with some complaining that their regular viewing would be disrupted by the pageant and others saying that this is further means of ensuring the exclusion of those who do not have DStv in their homes.

One would have thought that the event would have been on a platform that can be viewed by all considering that this year's Miss South Africa included the public (in the spirit of making the pageant relevant). South Africans were invited to send through SMSs and vote for their favourite and the public's votes had a 25 percent weighting on the overall vote.

The competition has been the topic of discussion throughout the weekend with many asking whether the competition is still relevant or if it is an absolute waste of time, many agree with the latter statement. Either way a lot of suggestions were made about what South Africans would like to see in the pageant going forward, it will be interesting to see if the public's voice will be heard.

This pageant has undoubtedly helped boost the careers of many models and has fuelled the aspirations of countless young girls throughout South Africa. Whether it translates into any tangible change is another question, what power does Miss SA really have? What can the crowned princess really do with her title? The newly crowned Miss SA, 21-year-old Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters says she hopes to tackle unemployment and empower women throughout the duration of her reign. Our government has been in office for more than 20 years, and yet no real change has been evident in SA's socio-economic dispensation, so what can Miss SA do in just one year?

Many of the participants sign up for the pageant with hopes to create a social impact, not only in South Africa but throughout the world. We hope that aside from the public appearances, deals and prizes — the experience will be one that speaks to actual change as opposed to being a glorified money spinner.