Less than a week after announcing the Top 16 for this year’s Miss South Africa pageant, the organisers have moved swiftly to respond to criticism around two of their ‘plus-size’ models

Miss SA 2019 has promised us a more diverse lineup than ever before and when they unveiled their 16 finalists at a glitzy announcement last Thursday, it looked like they were delivering on their word. This year’s contestants appear to be more inclusive than ever as the organisers clearly made a strong effort to redefine the meaning of “beauty” with their contestants, and many South Africans were here for their efforts.

With contestants from all backgrounds and complexions, as well as the first ever self-proclaimed ‘queer’ finalist for the pageant, it looked like we were finally getting a fair representation of South African women. However, when Miss SA introduced two ‘plus-size’ finalists in their final 16, South Africans raised a few eyebrows.

Beulah Baduza and Sasha-Lee Olivier were both described as ‘plus-size’ but after seeing a few pictures of the two women, many South African fans took exception to the label and called out Miss South Africa for misusing the label.

However Miss SA CEO, Stephanie Weil has responded to the criticism on social media by explaining why the competition regards Beulah and Sasha-Lee as plus-size

Stephanie said in a recent interview with ENCA; “These 16 girls are representations of all South Africans. Bringing to light these issues is incredibly important as an empowerment tool to be able to stand here and talk about it and if the industry thinks this way then how do we overcome it.

“How do we say they are plus-size when they are perfectly normal? What is the spectrum that we talk of? What we try to do is promote healthy minds and healthy bodies,” she added.

The pageant, which has faced criticism down the years vowed to take a more diversity-driven and inclusive approach to their competition this year.

Despite the furore around the ‘plus-size’ tag, Miss SA still affirms that this year’s pageant will be centred around transformation, a message echoed by their main sponsor LFP

Their commercial director, Nthabiseng affirmed that they, along with Miss SA, are focused on empowering this year’s finalists and women across South Africa when they said, “We pride ourselves in upskilling and empowering women in all aspects of our business.

“That’s why we’re using the sponsorship platform of Miss South Africa as an opportunity to spread awareness around the importance of youth empowerment, and at a time in which youth unemployment is at an all-time high, this is particularly critical”.

The Miss South Africa grand finale takes place on the 9th of August 2019, which is South African Women’s Day, and will be hosted by Bonang Matheba.

Do you think that shade of Miss SA contestants and organisers was warranted?