I was clicking aimlessly from channel to channel when I saw the advert; a weaved out woman with long legs, wearing a sexy dress that had a generous slit and revealing her very well toned thigh.
She walked straight towards the camera and then dramatically turned away as her lengthy weave swirled in the air.
I found myself slightly annoyed, so I quickly changed the channel hoping to forget what I had just seen.
As the Miss South Africa ‘gods’ would have it, the advert appeared again on the channel I was now watching. At this point I was no longer annoyed, I was extremely disgruntled.
The anger brewing inside me became so intense it made me want to make myself a cup of chamomile tea, or perhaps something stronger.
But instead of drinking away my anger, I chose a more constructive way of dealing with it by asking myself why this advert made me feel this way.
I’m 1.62 metres tall (although on a good morning I can make it to 1.65 metres). I weigh between 55kg and 60kg, depending on what season it is, and although my BMI works out perfectly I have a stubborn belly that refuses to go. My hips don’t lie and the afro on my head demands way too much attention from me.
I look at myself and then look at the girl on the TV screen - I look nothing like her. Could a girl like me ever win Miss South Africa?
Yes, it’s a beauty pageant. Yes it includes categories such as personality, hobbies and reasoning ability. But essentially the focus is on beauty. Upon visiting the Miss South Africa official website and viewing the past contestants, it became obvious to me that all of them (dating back to the year 2000) have similar attributes.
They are tall, have long silky hair, colgate smiles, 0 % body fat and all want to help change the world (yawn). In other words, Miss South Africa perpetuates a uniform idea of beauty. It doesn’t reflect reality.
According to ‘Miss South Africa’ a girl like me is not beautiful. I can enter the contest but history shows that I will not win because I do not meet their standards of beauty. If the main focus was personality and intellect then there would be a more diverse representation of women who participate.
This isn’t an attack on tall women with long hair (just in case I sound like a bitter short girl). It’s just how I, and I’m sure many other women like me, feel. The next time you’re at the grocery store or the office or even in a taxi, take a look at all the women around you. They might not all be Miss South Africa material, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t beautiful.
Another point to note: I’m not a feminist whose sole mission in life is to unveil the discriminatory masculine standards of beauty that society seems to adhere to. I’m just a woman who dreams of a world where we celebrate each other’s differences, and find beauty in people and things we were once told are not beautiful.
By embracing beauty in all shapes and sizes we will be welcoming a future of strong women who will not fall prey to ideas of plastic surgery in order to ‘look beautiful’.
Miss South Africa is a medium through which the propaganda of beauty is spread. For the sake of our daughters, and young sisters this needs to come to an end. This narrow-minded idea of beauty is not a reflection of the world that we live in.
One of two things needs to happen: either the Miss South Africa pageant should be cancelled or it must more realistic in its representation of women.
Hey, I’m just putting it out there.
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