I recently had the experience of being on a panel of what I thought was a beauty pageant. At the time of accepting the invitation, I had several reservations. Based on what I write about and who I am, you would know that I never want to be in a position of power that “judges” people according to their looks and legs and not who they are. That’s not who I am (anymore).The All-Girls’ school paradigm and standard of mainstream beauty has long evaded me and helping ladies feel secure in themselves is who I have chosen to be. I also advocate against the objectification of women which exploits their souls by the instrumentality of their bodies.
I walked into the venue filled with giggling girls in their high heels. Some looked eager, some nervous and others inert.
I spotted the organizer and brains behind the initiative, Zikhona Ngxata, who looked like one of the girls herself. Zikhona was a pageant queen and still holds the title and passion in her heart, which is why she brought this competition to life.
Of course, I snowballed her with questions about the pageant before sitting on the judging seat, just to ease my conscience.
Firstly I learnt that the pageant has two categories, Miss Eastern Cape (Ages 20-30) and Miss Eastern Cape Teen (ages 13-19). Secondly, the beauty pageant is focused on developing and empowering young girls and young women from the Eastern Cape.
Having looked at the social ills in our province, Zikhona’s team together with the Departments of Health and Education, found that the Eastern Cape is one of the provinces that is mostly affected by teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, poverty and illiteracy. Zikhona’s company came up with this campaign that tries to deter these young girls and young women away from the streets and instill value and principles of self-love and self-value. Lastly, Miss Eastern Cape looks to develop these young ladies from a holistic approach; spiritually, politically, economically and socially.
Miss Eastern Cape (incl Teen) will instill values of gratitude,with the knowledge of the blood shed for our freedom. The onus is on us to sustain and maintain this honour instead of abusing it. Furthermore, the women will work together with their chosen communities to build an even brighter and better future for our lovely, province and country.
Eastern Cape is the ‘home of legends’ and if we do not step up to the plate as young people, that statement will remain a part of history.
Women have power to influence and need to be cognizant of it and activate it. This collective influence will raise an army that will go together in fighting the social ills and making the province a better place to live in.
I believe this is the start of great things for the Eastern Cape and South Africa at large. The message behind this concept “beauty with purpose” completely overturns the external trajectory of outer beauty and focuses on the inner, truest beauty, compassion and social responsibility.
Needless to say, I was happy to be part of the Port Elizabeth panel and a keen supporter of this cause. Women, thou art loosed!
*Miss Eastern Cape will be held at the East London International Convention Centre on 6 December 2014. Miss Eastern Cape and Miss Eastern Cape Teen tickets are R 120.00 normal seats and R250.00 for VIP, (VIP includes a 3 course cocktail meal) and are available at Computicket!