Oh, beauty pageants, those glittering spectacles of glamour that have strutted through the decades, often getting side-eye for celebrating a pretty narrow slice of beauty – all sparkle, no substance, right? Wrong! It’s time to toss that old script out the window because pageants like Miss South Africa are flipping the narrative, mixing beauty with brains and a dash of badass.

Miss South Africa isn’t just about who has the glossiest hair or the brightest smile anymore (though, let’s be honest, those are still a bonus). It’s about breaking stereotypes and serving up a dazzling buffet of women from every corner of the rainbow – different stories, dreams, and, yes, killer looks. The competition is now shouting from the rooftops: “Face your power, embrace your future!” – honestly, I’m here for it.

The old guard clutching their pearls? They’re worried that pageants are all about the exterior, but Miss South Africa is proving them wrong, one inclusivity win at a time. Transgender women strutting their stuff on stage since 2021? Check. Married, tattooed, or piercing-rocking beauties? Double-check. And let’s not forget ditching those archaic height and weight requirements. It’s a new world, folks, where beauty comes in every shape and size, and every woman’s story gets the spotlight.

“It’s an opportunity to demonstrate that your beauty empowers you, that you’re intelligent, and that you can use your voice to reach out and encourage others,” says Tony, a 24-year-old Marketing assistant and a total believer in the power of pageantry to uplift and empower.

This isn’t just a parade of pretty faces; it’s a platform for voicing opinions and tackling social issues. Why not change the world while you’re at it? “Pageants provide a platform for women to speak out and raise awareness on specific topics,” shares Michaela, a 22-year-old sports student from Stellenbosch. These contestants aren’t just judged on their looks and commitment to making a splash for the greater good.

Remember Zozibini Tunzi, the Miss Universe who walked the Miss SA stage like she owned it? She wasn’t just a vision; she was a movement. Inspired by her, I dreamed of joining Miss South Africa, not for the crown, but to use my voice to ignite change and inspire the next wave of young women to dream big.

“We must begin to view beauty pageants as an inspiring platform for pursuing a goal. And it’s quite acceptable to do so while looking gorgeous. This does not mean that it is superficial,” says Lisa, a 24-year-old makeup artist intern, summing it up perfectly.

So, let’s give it up for the new era of beauty pageants, where it’s not just about the glitz but about setting the stage for inspiring women to blend beauty, brains, and a bold mission. It’s time to see these events for what they truly are: catalysts for change, celebration of diversity, and a place where dreams are made. Who says you can’t spark a revolution in heels and a crown?

How do you believe beauty pageants like Miss South Africa can further evolve to empower women and challenge societal norms, and what changes would you like to see to make these platforms even more inclusive and impactful?