Plus-size models set sights on pageant title

BIG IS BEAUTIFUL: Nadeen Heys is one of the Eastern Cape finalists at the Miss SA Plus World 2020 in Bloemfontein in April
BIG IS BEAUTIFUL: Nadeen Heys is one of the Eastern Cape finalists at the Miss SA Plus World 2020 in Bloemfontein in April
Image: Supplied

“Little girls need to know that how you see yourself is more important than what’s on the outside.”

This was said by one of two Port Elizabeth plus-size models when explaining what inspired her to enter a beauty pageant aimed at changing  perceptions of fuller-figured women.

The two beauties are set to compete in international beauty pageants in Bloemfontein in April.  

Zoleka Bikani, 53, and Nadeen Heys, 36, will be competing in the national leg of the Miss SA Plus Intercontinental 2020 and the Miss SA Plus World 2020, respectively.

Heys hails from Richmond Hill, while Bikani lives in KwaDwesi in Port Elizabeth.

Miss SA Plus World caters for the 20 to 39 age group, while Miss SA Plus Intercontinental 2020 caters for women aged 40 and over.

SA sent its first representatives to the Miss Plus World and Miss Plus Intercontinental pageants in the US in 2018 under the leadership of Miss SA Plus World national director  Chiefonna Leeuw.

“We are dedicated to elevating and celebrating the accomplishments and humanitarian services of ‘women of equity’ while building a sisterhood of confident and influential ladies who share their cultures as they promote education, peace, wellness and community service,” Leeuw said.

“The pageant is a system of integrity and character.”

In SA, the pageant started in 2016 as a provincial pageant in the Free State — specifically for married women — and in 2017 they created a category for single women across SA and included a teen category for high school pupils.

While Bikani took part in several pageants as a little girl, she opted out of the pageant lifestyle for a number of years before returning to modelling late last year.

“I fell in love with working on pageants in college. I wasn’t participating, only organising, but I liked it.

“I didn’t know that plus-sized women could enter pageants but when I saw that they did, I went for it.

“I think this kind of pageant is good because it helps women build their self-confidence.

“Women often underestimate themselves and they sometimes need help realising their worth.

“The pageant is not about beauty only, it also focuses on charity and community work,” Bikani said.

Heys said she found out about the pageant while scrolling through Facebook and saw a post calling for plus-sized women to come forward and showcase themselves in a beauty pageant.

“I sent my details through and I was chosen,” Heys said.

“I think it is important to have pageants like this because little girls need to know that how you see yourself is more important than what’s on the outside.” 

The pageant will be crowning new winners to represent SA at Miss Plus World pageant  Houston, Texas, in July.


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