From tomboy to Miss SA finalist

2014-02-04 00:00

IN her own words, Julia Petersen was once a skinny, short tomboy with low self-esteem. Now she’s a serious contender for the 2014 Miss South Africa pageant title, as KwaZulu-Natal’s only finalist in the event.

So how did that happen?

“People were always saying I should try modelling when I was a teenager, but I didn’t want to,” said the 22-year-old management and communications graduate from the University of KZN.

“Then I tried and it was nice. I only started wearing make-up when I took up modelling. When I was having my hair done for the first time, I realised that it was okay to look beautiful. Every woman wants that.

“Modelling has opened doors for me. It’s taught me to be groomed and how to present myself to the world, which is important. How you look is your brand.”

Petersen, who said she comes from “really humble beginnings”, grew up in the small community of Greenwood Park near Durban North and went to Northlands Girls’ High School.

“My family is very close. I was brought up to have strong morals and values,” she said of her parents Shaun and Katherine Petersen.

After modelling, Petersen entered the world of beauty pageants and sailed on to become a finalist in the Miss SA Teen pageant in 2008, before winning the Miss Four Seasons pageant in 2011.

Entering the Miss SA pageant meant leaving her comfort zone. Along with the other 11 finalists, Petersen had to take part in the antics of The Road to Miss South Africa reality show, which will be screened weekly until March 23. This “Miss South Africa boot camp” put the 12 finalists through a series of challenges, including filming a TV commercial for Cell C, teaching a class about the insect world, a baking competition, and applying make-up on a bumpy game drive.

Petersen is a focused self-improver.

“I love reading inspiring and motivational books that will help me become a better person. It’s important what you feed your mind with,” she said.

Does she have a plan for her life?

“After matric, I said I needed to get a degree. I’ve done that, now I’ll do the pageant and see what comes from that. I want to use it as a platform to inspire young women. I want to travel and model overseas. And I want to help charities, especially those involved with helping young girls and the elderly.”

She said the Miss SA experience has seen her growing as a person.

“After the pageant, life won’t be the same again. I want to inspire young girls to move from a victim mentality to victor. They too can follow their dreams.”

• The Road to Miss South Africa reality show will be screened each Sunday on Mzansi Magic (DStv Channel 161) at 5.30 pm. The 56th Miss South Africa pageant will be staged at Sun City on March 30.

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