Last month we celebrated the crowning of this year’s Miss South Africa. Each and every year the ceremony is held in celebration of women who espouse the virtues commonly referred to when feminism and gender equality debates transpire. Miss South Africa is only one of a handful of pageants that take place annually in Mzansi. Miss Ghana South Africa is also another beauty pageant that has grassroots in our shores. We had a chat with the current reigning Miss Ghana South Africa queen Michelle Ganso about the competition and what it means to her.
QuenchSA: What is your general impression of beauty pageants?
Michelle: Nowadays, I am pleased that pageants aren’t just about beauty but are to celebrate women, their intelligence and potential. Usually people associate pageants with beauty and appearance but I believe beauty pageants are to prove to everyone that women have potential and we have the ability to change the world and achieve our goals.
QuenchSA: What makes Miss Ghana South Africa distinct from any other pageants out there?
Michelle: Miss Ghana South Africa is different from other pageants because 2 cultures are combined. You become an ambassador to Ghanaian people in South Africa. It gives you the platform to learn about South African culture and at the same time educate South Africans about Ghanaian culture making it a excellent pageant.
QuenchSA: How has your life changed from the experience of being part of the pageant?
Michelle: My life has changed a lot, being part of this pageant has taught me quite a lot. Being put in a house with different girls can be quite a challenge but at the same time it teaches you to be accommodating of other people’s personalities and you learn about yourself more in the process. I am more confident and also I can accommodate people more when I encounter them.
QuenchSA: You once said you associated your complexion with ugliness. Having won the competition, has your perspective changed?
Michelle: Entering Miss Ghana South Africa, was a challenge that I gave to myself. After fighting with issues of self esteem, I had to make sure that I believed that I am dark and beautiful. Therefore, I entered the pageant to put into action what I thought and to confirm to myself that I am dark and beautiful. My perspective has changed, I changed what I saw as a flaw into a strength. I am pleased to say that my complexion is on the top of the list of things I love about myself.
QuenchSA: The life span of a beauty queen is usually a year long in the public eye. How do you intend on staying relevant past your term as the reigning beauty queen?
Michelle: By hosting workshops and seminars for women mainly to encourage and motivate them to believe in themselves and go after their dreams and passions. By being a role model to women especially dark skinned who struggle with issues of self esteem. Lastly, by building a community where women feel a sense of belonging in South Africa.
Michelle: My confidence and how calm and focused I was on the day. I think my answer in the Q&A session worked to my advantage.
QuenchSA: You competed in the beauty competition while doing your studies. How were you able to juggle both demanding facets of your life?
Michelle: It is honestly about having to find the balance between the two. I am very serious about school, so school comes first always. So for example, if I have an interview related to Miss Ghana South Africa and an assignment on the same day, one has to go and because I take my school work seriously, my interview has to either be postponed or cancelled. So for me , there is time for school work and time for my duties and responsibilities. Luckily enough this year, I have quite a lot of time to myself so Miss Ghana SA takes priority at the moment.
QuenchSA: Beauty pageant contestants are also tasked with raising awareness about social ills. What have you done that you most proud of having won the competition?
Michelle: I have been involved with my charity organization which is Lerato House for girls, which mainly deals with abandoned girls from the age of 13. Lerato House vision is to motivate and encourage the girls to be the best that they can be in the society they live in and that is what I am passionate about. Being part of this organization and being able to assist the girls makes me very proud and happy.
QuenchSA: What can people expect from you in the immediate future?