Miss South Africa – not a true depiction of the reality of women in South Africa

by Thando Mgobhozi

Miss South Africa has announced its top 16 finalists for the 2019 pageant which will take place at Sun International flagship venue, the Sun Arena at Time Square, Pretoria and will be broadcast live on M-Net and Mzansi Magic on the 9th of August 2019. Of course, the pageant has come a long way since its first-ever in 1956 apartheid South Africa and was only open to white Caucasian females. Things changed in 1992 where all races were allowed to enter and compete in Miss SA competition. Now I’m sure you are thinking that’s a good thing and all women are now represented in the pageant. There is a rather strict list of requirements to enter and some of the requirements are questionable.

These are some of the requirements;

• You must never have been pregnant or have given birth and you cannot be pregnant at the time of the pageant.
• You must have no criminal record
• You must not have any visible tattoos

You can find the rest of the requirements and other details regarding the pageant on the official website of MISS SA.

One of the biggest challenges faced by our country is teenage pregnancy. Teenage pregnancy is always on the rise each year according to statistics. There is a number of reasons why teenage pregnancy is such a big thing and not just in South Africa but worldwide. Are we doing enough as a country to educate young boys and girls on sex education as well as the consequences that come with having unprotected sex? There are so many birth control methods that we teach women about yet we never show the same amount of emphasis on birth control methods for men when it should really be the other way around because men can impregnate more than one woman at a time.

The fact that the pageant excludes women who have been pregnant and given birth shows a lack of women empowerment and is very discouraging to many young women who have dreams of entering the pageant but cannot because they do not fit the criteria of being MISS SA. How does having a child disqualify one to become MISS SA? Many women who fall pregnant at a young age are led to believe that there is nothing left for them in life and this is what the pageant is proving to be true by not allowing these women to compete. These are the questions that need to be asked and answered.

We need to bring women from all walks of life to this pageant and let them have a say on what it was like to have to be a mother from a young age because these are the stories that future generations need to hear. How else can we empower future generations to come if we oppress the women who have important things to say by shutting them out and not giving them a platform to do so? We also know how serious rape is in the country. Many women get raped on a daily basis and some even fall pregnant as a result. What happens to women who fall pregnant without their consent? The very same pageant that is supposed to be for women is also the same pageant that is oppressive to them. It is very unfair to condemn people based on who they were as opposed to who they are now.

What the MISS SA pageant needs to understand is that we do not come from the same backgrounds and have been brought up differently under different circumstances, some easier than others really. If I did not know any better I would say this pageant was made for women who are perfect and have no flaws. That is very unrealistic. This is the same for women with criminal records and tattoos.

What’s worse is that Mr. South Africa pageant does not have the same requirements as MISS SA, treated completely different. It is very disappointing, to say the least, but it is very evident that gender-based violence still exists and it is still as strong as before if not stronger.

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