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“How you gon’ hate from outside the club? You can’t even get in.”

This Chris Brown jam always rings back at me when I think of whether to come at a subject that has to do with exclusion. Because here’s the reality, most of the time we are critiquing from the outside and aren’t seeing the reality or have no power to create meaningful change.

Well, I got in. I was part of the ‘Sisterhood’. * Flicks wig *

I was in the top two might I add. I was tiara’ed and bouqueted (pardon me whilst I create my own vocabulary).

And I had to get in to be heard, to be given the time of day. To experience any backlash or to even be deemed relevant enough to be featured in a few known publications, where I was coined (bear with me whilst I paraphrase) the runner up that was critical of a top pageant and the words “insufficient effort” were literally put between apostrophes to demonstrate how flippant we are about this subject matter.

This journey was long and secondly expensive, there was no way I was going to squander my seat at the table – I was at the top. No crown but I used what I had – a seat and pointed out the unfairness of not all starting off on the same foot.

Cut a long story short; I was in the ladies’ club, I caused storms in a few high tea cups and left a mark that will hopefully influence decision-making going forward before graciously hanging my tiara.

So, here’s why you should enter Mrs South Africa as a brown and black South African woman in 2018:

  1. We need voices – strong voices in spaces that many young girls (whether we like it or not) look to and admire. There are still many young girls whose hearts beat for crowns and tiaras. Who wake up and sleep to the hypnotic sounds of ‘Let It Go’ but do not see their hair flowing like Elsa’s and their skin beaming back at the light like Elsa’s does. We need black and brown Elsa’s!
  2. We need real and authentic conversations that will move married women forward brought to the fore. The Mrs SA journey is a yearlong one and ample time to use the Mrs SA and the exploitation of the brand that is associated with our land to engage media in the passions you not only have but the impact you can make should you win or not.
  3. We are a long way from creating our own pageants and growing them. We lack resources. Those with the resources are hiding unwillingness to transform behind veils of sponsors as well promises of sisterhood and empowerment. Get in there and prove what imbokodo does to empower and grow sisterhood. Our mothers in townships growing up make so many sacrifices for not just us to be fed and clothed, but no neighbours child would be hungry whilst you slept with full stomachs. This is sisterhood. It’s not gassing each other up. It’s rising and then imparting how you rose and the means you used to the next one to rise too.
  4. Once again, more Black Girl Magic is needed in the beauty industry. Black Girl Magic with great heads on their shoulders. I don’t know about you but with a population that is majority (like MAJORity) black and brown, I cringe at times that we tend to be represented globally by a Eurocentric look globally. I found myself rooting for Miss Jamaica to win Miss Universe because I was grabbing onto anything that look more like what I see 80% of the time when I walk in a walk or down the street in 2018.
  5. Lastly, you cannot make changes from outside. We need a seat at the table and boy when you do, don’t squander it. As Michelle Obama oh so eloquently put it:

“If you are scared to use your voice, then you’ve got to get up and give it to someone who isn’t afraid to use the spot”.

Remember that it took Naomi Campbell decades of building her career to address racism with other black models in the industry… times have changed. It was tougher for them. But the main thing is that you need to get in to impart change, to force change and transformation.

Please, do enter. Use the year in the competition. Stand together – mind you, I have had white women who were in the competition last year send me messages on Facebook expressing that they did see the unfairness and transformation issues first hand and if they knew what to do, they would do something – It does not mean isolate white women but create a sisterhood with a cause, not just applause and effect REAL change for us. Speak at tables with confidence and no shame. Correct where you must. Learn and teach where you can.

Give our little girls a black Elsa moment – for them to know they are more than enough and they are spoken for in all aspects of their lives.