Johannesburg – Being a beauty queen may seem like it's all glitz and glamour, but according to former Miss SA and Miss World Rolene Strauss there were a few things she had to give up to fulfil her pageant duties.
The star, who was crowned Miss South Africa in 2014 at the age of 21, shared a video on her YouTube channel titled "Things I gave up for the Miss South Africa crown."
In the video, Rolene mentioned that during interviews people always wanted to know what she left behind to be a pageant queen. "I never felt comfortable sharing the things that I had to give up because it might seem ungrateful. But there were so many things that I had to give up," she said, adding she still "loved the experience" of being Miss South Africa.
Here are 6 things beauty queen says she had to give up for the Miss SA crown.
1. Her youth
People generally have high standards for beauty queens, expecting them to be poised and near-perfect at all times. Having won at the young age of 21, Rolene says in order to live up to those expectations she had to grow up overnight.
"Before the night (of the pageant) it was fine for me to act like a 21-year-old – I laughed when I wanted to laugh, I said what I wanted to say at times when I wanted to say it, and that was fine because I was just a normal 21-year-old girl. And as soon as I won, I had to leave all of that behind."
She added: "Sometimes I still wonder, what would I have done if I didn't win Miss South Africa. Would I have been able to enjoy my youth for a bit longer?"
2. Natural hair and flat shoes
Although Rolene was never barred from wearing her hair in its naturally curly state, the star says because she felt pressured to keep up the persona of a beauty queen, she decided never to wear her hair natural.
"At that stage, it wasn't okay for me to wear my naturally curly hair to events. And it wasn't necessarily because of what other people thought about me wearing my naturally curly hair. I just felt I'm Miss South Africa, I have to put in effort to be able to look like Miss South Africa when I go to events."
She also says she never wore flat shoes during her reign, recalling how it resulted in her feet aching even more when she removed the heels at home and walked barefoot. "I still like wearing high heels, but now I have a choice. That's where the difference comes in," she went on to say.
3. Her fear of public speaking
Taking viewers even further down memory lane, Rolene spoke about the first time she entered Miss SA back in 2011. She recalled a terrible experience when she had to answer a question in the interview round in English but struggled as it is not her first language.
"Since that day I had a fear of speaking English in public," she admitted. Though she made it through to the top five, she did not take the crown that year.
"For me to have won Miss South Africa in 2014 I had to give up my fear of public speaking."
The Miss SA title thrusts winners into the spotlight from the moment they are crowned. With that comes a lack of privacy as you immediately move from regular girl to celeb status. This was no different for Rolene.
"The one thing that I struggled with was knowing that I had a lot of eyes on me. And in a way I felt like I had to change who I am because of all these eyes," she said.
5. Her studies
When she entered the contest, Rolene was studying to become a medical doctor.
The winner of Miss SA has to be fully committed to her role, which often means putting any study programme on hold.
With the permission of the dean at her university, Rolene was able to pause her medical studies for two years while she completed her reign as Miss SA and then as Miss World.
"The most difficult part was seeing all of my friends graduating, and here I am still having to do two years of medical studies. So it was very difficult to give up my studies."
The star later returned to university to complete her studies and become a doctor as she had always dreamed.
6. Giving up her routine
Before becoming Miss South Africa, Rolene says she formed a strict routine which included packing healthy lunches and exercising often. But once she took home the crown sticking to that routine became tough. This change resulted in the her gaining weight, which led to people body shaming her, and some even speculating that she was pregnant.
"I couldn't explain to them why I gained this weight and how difficult it was for me to be Miss South Africa."
When it comes down to it, Rolene does not regret winning the pageant, calling it an honour. "Even though all of these things happened, and I had to give up all of these things, I would not have changed it for the world, because it was an experience that changed my life for the better."
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