Picture: MISS SA
Picture: MISS SA

Pretty girls parading around the life-size statue of Shawu the Elephant at the Palace of the Lost City — resplendent in diamanté-encrusted ball gowns. Frolicking in the Valley of the Waves while peering meaningfully into the middle distance. Miss SA seemed pretty cool in the 1980s and 1990s. But so did VHS, MacGyver and tramezzinis.

Fast forward three decades to 2017, and curiously, we’re still being subjected to lovely young things in stretchy lamé. Posing with that same elephant.

Is there any reason why beauty pageants still take place? Apparently so, given that last weekend a BCom student from Sedgefield, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, was crowned the fairest in our land.

The Miss SA licence holder is Sun International (so that’s the reason for the elephant). It’s tempting to draw parallels with Sun International itself, a company fighting for relevance in a world where its iconic property is Sun City — which was also great in the 1990s.

In the modern era women can pursue any interest — even pageantry. But in a year of the Women’s March on Washington, it seems an anachronism to imply the best qualities of a women are trite clichés about inequality and a spray tan.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t still fans — including Donald Trump, who owned the Miss Universe pageant from 1996 to 2015. Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

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