Mosiah Moshe Tau serves as the current Miss Limpopo Province. This third-year Civil Engineering student is one of the few black South African women to have won a major pageant with their natural hair. Wits Vuvuzela sat down with her to pick her brain on African beauty and beauty pageants.
What is the role of beauty pageants in African societies in 2015?
The aim of pageants in general is to empower women and create role models, most especially for our young people. We encourage being happy in our own skin. But nowadays, we are steering in a direction where the title holder is an ambassador, rather than a beauty queen. It’s not just a beauty contest, it’s ‘beauty with a purpose’. So it is more about what the woman can do with the title to better the society than her own physical beauty.
Are beauty pageants in S.A a reflection of South African beauty?
No. I think they tend to be a bit superficial and most of them still miss the point. I wasn’t aware of how many pageants there are out there until I was crowned. I get invitations to come judge local pageants and sometimes when I ask the organisers what the pageant is about I realise that they don’t really have a real intention, but to make money but they hide behind “we just want to motivate the young girls”.
Following the cancellation of swimsuit wear in the Miss World pageant, do you think that South African pageants should adopt the same principle?
Yes, definitely. Like I said it’s not just a beauty contest, it’s ‘beauty with a purpose’. The beauty we are promoting is the beauty that is within the heart and mind, and I think with swimsuits it is more focused on the outside, on who is more physically appealing than the other, so I don’t think we need to have a swimsuit section. As for the outside beauty, we are saying let’s love ourselves and be comfortable and happy in our own skins.
I think it is commendable what the Miss World board did, because it is a step closer to sending the message of what pageants in these modern days stand for. Beauty with brains.
As a beauty pageant ‘queen’, in an African community, how do you celebrate African traditional values without conflicting the ‘beauty standard of the pageant world’?
By being myself I think I have already conflicted those standards *jokes*, for instance, I was the first person to be crowned Miss Limpopo with short, natural hair as opposed to popular belief that a beauty queen has to have long [sexy] hair, because that is what is more appealing apparently.
I am an African and I am beautiful. I see myself as an agent of societal change than just a ‘beauty queen’. I have come to learn that there are really no rules of being a beauty queen, but just perceptions and a mentality that people have developed over the years and I am rebellious to those ‘standards’.