Johannesburg – On Wednesday the Miss South Africa organisation announced the top 35 semi-finalists who are in the running for the Miss SA crown.
The impressive group consists of law students and graduates, nature conservation graduates, a private banker, owners of a photography company and a pizza takeaway, humanities students and a parliamentary officer.
Speaking about her journey in a statement released to the media, 24-year-old semi-finalist Kgothatso Dithebe from Centurion said: "I have a birthmark on my face. During my upbringing, people would make me feel insecure about it. I was told I couldn't do a number of things because of how I looked. That led to me having had low self-esteem and feeling like I was less of a person."
The LLB student added that getting into the top 35 for the beauty pageant will help her send out a message of positivity for anyone who finds themselves struggling with the same issues that haunted her.
"My message is to be yourself and love yourself wholeheartedly; don't give the next person the power to make you feel self-conscious because of what they believe is a flaw."
Noluthando Bennett (24), a sound engineer from Krugersdorp, said this about the competition: "Miss South Africa gives women a platform to show that they are more than just a beautiful face, that they will champion a cause and are willing to take risks and implement them to see a positive change."
For 22-year-old marketing student Anita Jansen from Midrand, it's all about using her platform to inspire those around her, "showing young girls that nothing is impossible."
She adds: "I want to pay special attention to mental health and how it connects to the body – because when you're healthy in the mind you are unstoppable."
The Miss South Africa pageant will take place at the Sun Arena, Time Square in Pretoria on 9 August. The top 16 finalists will be announced on 11 July.
(Photo: Yolanda van der Stoep)