Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters’ quiet life as a business management and entrepreneurship student is over. The 21-year-old South African was crowned the new Miss South Africa in a massive ceremony held at Sun City on the 26th of March and is now facing a pretty busy year.
But first things first: this year’s contestants were judged by a star-studded panel that included actor and businessman Maps Maponyane, Olympic swimmer Cameron van der Burgh, radio personality Unathi Msengana and Claudia Henkel, a former Miss South Africa. Additionally, people all over the country were able to vote via SMS for the very first time. After a long evening full of sparkly fashion, breathtaking beauty and getting to know the contestants’ characters, Demi-Leigh, who has been working as a part-time model for a while now, came in first. The Miss South Africa pageant is one of the richest beauty pageants in the entire world with Demi-Leigh receiving one million rand in cash as well as other prizes. All in all, it is estimated that the winner walked away with what is worth three million rand.
And what now? Well, the newly crowned Miss South Africa will represent her country in the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants. Both of these pageants, as well as the Miss South Africa pageant, seem to face an ongoing stream of criticism, especially from women. According to the Huffington Post, critics find fault with the fact that pageants are “a major contributor to the prevalent objectification of women and the exclusion of those who do not seem to fit (a certain) type.” South African Twitter users were also quick to critizise the fact that none of the contestants were fully representional of South African women and how they look, which brings up the question: apart from entertainment, does anything good come out of a massive beauty pageant like this?
Demi-Leigh will have the chance to prove that she is far more than just a pretty face and right now she seems to be determined to use her one year reign for something positive, stating: “I vow to dedicate the next 365 days of my life to serve the people of South Africa, to be a voice for those who are afraid to or cannot speak up and to represent the whole of our beautiful nation.” Miss South Africa will not spend her entire reign on the beauty pageant stages of this world but will also do loads of promotional and charity work. She is expected to work for several NGOs that support underprivileged South Africans, amongst them many women and girls. Doesn’t that sound like a good outcome?