I used to watch beauty pageants and think: "If only I were taller, slimmer, etc."

Does that sound familiar?

According  to Imbiza Entertainment, a different kind of beauty pageant was launched in South Africa back in 2011, i.e. to celebrate indigenous South African beauty. 

How it works: 12 finalists are chosen from across the country, representing the Xhosa, BaSotho and the Khoi San cultures, amongst many. But only one gets to be crowned the Indoni Miss Cultural SA each year.

Most mainstream beauty pageants say they focus on intelligence, talent and personality; yet  we can all agree that they heavily rely on physical beauty, based on homogenous beauty ideal and standards.

What makes this pageant so different is that there is no traditional fashion ramp. The girls are, however, dressed in traditional garb and body art and show off their unique talents and culture on stage.

This pageant also showcases dance and folk lore, and allows the beauties to tell their folk tales in their own languages. The final 5 finalists are also allowed to answer questions in their own languages.

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My favourite thing about this pageant is that the candidates are relatable. This competition promotes a healthy and realistic self image by diversifying the image of beauty, by size, height and weight. At least, that is how it came across to me. Don’t believe me? Here is the winner.

Most importantly, this entire initiative will leave me knowing more about my heritage and that of other South Africans, than ever before.

I am not the only one who thinks this pageant is everything. 

It’s a crying shame that I’ve only recently heard about this, and I hope it becomes a bigger success.

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