Ahead of this year’s Miss South Africa, a group of influential women has stood behind an open letter to the organisation, asking for more diversity. 

As our current Miss South Africa, Shudufhadzo Musida prepares to represent the country at Miss World in the coming months, all eyes are already on the 2021 edition of Miss South Africa.

While details about this year’s pageant are still scarce, an open letter to Miss South Africa organisation has brought the competition to the spotlight this week. The contents of the letter were not only honest but thought-provoking, as the women of South Africa demanded more diversity in the country’s biggest pageant. 

Dear Miss South Africa…

Miss South Africa has been running for nearly 80 years, since its inaugural pageant back in 1943. Since then, we’ve seen a number of beautiful women wear the crown and represent South Africa on the world stage. In recent years, however, the definition of “Beautiful” has been questioned, as many in the country called for a more inclusive definition of the word. 

We’ve seen some progress – Zozibini became the first Miss South Africa to wear the crown with natural African hair; while Sasha Lee Olivier (who took over from Zozi when she won Miss Universe) was the first plus-sized Miss SA (although the definition of “plus-sized” was highly questioned!)

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However, for influencer Kwena Baloyi and many other South African women, this has not been enough. Kwena trended this week after publishing a sharply-worded open letter to the Miss SA organisation. 

Part of the letter read, “The time has come for us to address an issue that has been continually dismissed by your organisation and that is the business of representation. “For decades, we have engaged with your idea of beauty, the kind that is primarily based on serving the needs of archaic patriarchal and universalism norms,” read the letter. “Our women are not limited to your predictable choice of thin, able-bodied, cisgendered model type contestants. “We are also curvaceous, full-bodied, queer, transgender, disabled and gender queer.”

 

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Kwena defends her letter

If nothing else, the open letter certainly caused a stir on the Twitter streets, but the author of the document stood firm in her defence of its message. She told Daily Sun, that she wanted to see how the pageant empowers women. What happens after she’s done with her year of reign?How does she then become empowered and make a difference in the world.

 

 

Miss SA’s CEO, Stephanie Weil told the paper that she was aware of the letter and said the organisation was in contact with the writers to discuss it.