Miss SA organisation to take legal action against City Press for 'pure body shaming' article

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Sasha-Lee Olivier (Photo: Willem Botha)
Sasha-Lee Olivier (Photo: Willem Botha)
  • The Miss South Africa Organisation says it’s "appalled" by an article published in City Press on Sunday.
  • The article speculates whether or not the reigning Miss South Africa, Sasha-Lee Olivier is pregnant or not based on a photo of her posted on Instagram. 
  • The organisation has labelled the article as "pure body shaming" and says Sasha-Lee is "deeply hurt" by the article and they will be "taking legal advice and action".
  • Sasha-Lee responded in a live Instagram broadcast saying: "I know I’m not pregnant. I know who I am. I am comfortable in my skin."
  • City Press declined to immediately respond to the statement made by the Miss South Africa Organisation. 

In an unprecedented move the Miss South Africa Organisation on Sunday released a statement in which it strongly condemned an article published in a Sunday newspaper. 

According to the organisation it’s "appalled with the article that appeared in City Press" on Sunday, 14 June titled "Is She or Not?" in which the publication speculates whether reigning Miss South Africa, Sasha-Lee Olivier is pregnant or not.

The source of the speculation is based on a photo of the South African beauty that was published on Instagram showing Sasha-Lee sitting at a bar in a mustard-yellow dress. 

According to the Miss South Africa Organisation a City Press journalist contacted them on Saturday asking for comment on the "rumours" which they categorically denied. 

"The Miss South Africa Organisation replied, stating categorically that Sasha-Lee is not pregnant. It was left at that. We did not condone entering into any salacious debate about Sasha-Lee’s body given the degrading and discriminatory intentions of this article," the organisation said in a statement. 

City Press wrote: "If it’s true that there is a bun in the oven, it would be the first big scandal to hit South Africa’s most popular pageant. She would have gone against the pageant rules, which are quite clear that you cannot be pregnant when you enter – or even after – you are crowned."

The publication also published comments from "former Miss SA coordinator Thobile Sithole" echoing the statement that it would go "against international standard rules".

According to the Miss South Africa organisation it has "no knowledge of any such person and can state that no-one of that name has worked on the pageant since 2013. To this end, the Miss South Africa Organisation is further appalled by the lack of vetting utilised when asking for official comment and representation from the organisation itself."

LEGAL ACTION

The organisation added: "In a week in which President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks out against Gender Based Violence, the Miss South Africa Organisation is horrified about the story and would like to put the following on record: Sasha-Lee Olivier is not pregnant. City Press was told this in no uncertain terms.

"The article is pure body shaming, implying that if Sasha-Lee is not pregnant then she is fat. Let us put it on the record that Sasha-Lee Olivier is a real person and is deeply hurt by what appeared.

"As part of the 2019 campaign, Sasha Lee stood as an advocate for fuller figure women and expanded on the organisation’s prior representations of beauty. We as an organisation stand strong with Sasha Lee with this understanding of beauty and do not take lightly to any form of body shaming and discrimination which is intended to disempower and humiliate her.

"The Miss South Africa Organisation will be taking legal advice and action."

Sasha-Lee personally responded to the article in a live broadcast on her Instagram on Sunday night. "I know I’m not pregnant. I know who I am. I am comfortable in my skin," she said.

Adding: "I’m speaking up not for myself but for every single person I represent on this platform. It’s not even about weight. It’s about every girl that hasn’t felt comfortable or like she does not fit in. You don’t have to fit in. Just be yourself. That’s all and that’s enough.

"I’m so disappointed in the fact that we’re supposed to be building each another up but we choose to break each other down. I hope this is a teachable moment for every single one of you. You have a responsibility to use your platform to build and lift each other up. Let’s focus on what’s important."

Channel24 reached out to City Press for comment. The publication declined to immediately respond to the statement from the Miss South Africa Organisation.

ALSO READ: Meet the 35 contestants vying for the title of Miss South Africa 2020

Both Channel24 and City Press are part of Media24.

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