26-year-old Kgothatso Dithebe was in the Top Five of Miss SA 2019. She shares the lessons she learned then and why she entered the pageant again
Why did you decide to enter Miss South Africa 2021 and why do you deserve to win this title?
My life story was not always easy, but sharing it with the entire nation and trying to make a difference is what I stand for. I have seen how bullying and cyberbullying is rapidly increasing in our country, which leads to a lot of suicide and mental health issues. Being someone who was bullied, I know what that feels like. I took a different route and I want the nation to see itself in me. A story of a beautiful young girl who was bullied and committed suicide because she could not take it anymore has urged me to enter Miss South Africa once again; to be loud and to ensure I spread the message across all borders. I pride myself on representing my nation as a relatable woman.
Tell us about your biggest disappointment and how you bounced back from it.
My biggest disappointment was not winning Miss South Africa in 2019. But seeing a woman deserving of the title and how she pushed boundaries and changed the narrative made me work harder on myself. I bounced back by blocking out negativity and worked on myself, my growth and my mental health. I became positive and attracted positivity. I booked campaigns and television commercials. I am even on billboards and in magazines.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing young people today?
The biggest problem facing young people today is self-identity. The manner in which young people see themselves, what we want from life and where we are going. Young people end up with a lot of peer pressure and societal influences, which can lead to substance abuse, causing them to lack aspiration and inspiration.
Who are your role models?
Basetsana Khumalo. I love how she mentors young women. Not only does she open doors for other women, she also helps them realise their dreams and potential. I love her bravery. She was crowned Miss South Africa 1994 and her beauty is still so radiant. One would say she’s timeless.
What is your single biggest achievement?
Buying my first property this year.
In what way do you think beauty pageants are still relevant today?
Because of social media, beauty pageants have gained popularity globally, making them relevant now more than ever. Many who join beauty pageants are not only beautiful but strong, smart and have more substance than we think. Beauty pageants play a significant role in helping and challenging women to be greater versions of themselves.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
I always tell people to be themselves. Believe in yourself, believe you have a greater purpose. Never conform to societal standards. Throughout my life, I was told that my skin was ugly and I would try to fit in, in every way possible. But one day I decided to love myself and every single flaw that I have. I made a declaration that I was beautiful. By doing so, everyone around me started accepting and embracing not only me but also themselves. My message is be yourself and love yourself wholeheartedly; never give the next person the power to make you feel self-conscious because of what they believe is not a societal standard.
What do you love about South Africa?
South Africa is a beautiful country along with its people. It has a lot of rich history, so many cultures and languages. We pride ourselves on the diversity we have.
What is one thing you would like to change about South Africa?
One thing I would like to change about South Africa is personal self-motivation. South Africa lacks platforms that build people to be self-motivated. How can we build ourselves within our economical spaces, given the fact that our country is a rich and resourceful country and not exploit the instruments available? We should be able to see opportunities ourselves. Hence, I wish we embrace unity and diversity to avoid racism and xenophobia.
The year 2020 and 2021 have been extraordinary years and difficult for people around the globe. Do you see any positives in what has happened in the past 18 months?
I see a lot of positivity, the ability to be financially literate, saving money for rainy days, living within your means and a general understanding of how the economy works. People have begun to appreciate their own spaces, homes and loved ones a lot more. They appreciate their jobs. They are woke regarding their hygiene and good health. People have realised just how small the world is and that we are all connected, one way or another.
If you won the Miss South Africa crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet any girl or woman who has given up on life or thinks they aren’t good enough and remind them of their worth, remind them of the power they possess in them and the abundance this world has to offer. I would love to tell them to look at things in a different scope and be the change that’s needed- even if it’s for one person.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I enjoy watching wrestling.
What is the number one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
If only you knew how much power and strength you have, you wouldn’t let other people control how you feel about yourself. Everything you are going to go through prepares you for the greatness that awaits you.
Connect with Kgothatso on these platforms:
- Facebook: @kgothi dithebe
- Instagram: @kgothiiman
- Twitter: @kgothi dithebe