Durban - While most of the guys I know are not keen on beauty pageants, they’re not as averse to beauty queens. In fact, nor are the women, as long as they can watch contestants “behind the scenes”.

That’s probably the allure of The Road to Miss South Africa, a documentation of the pageant journey broadcast on Mzansi Magic (DStv channel 161) at 5.30pm every Sunday, until the pageant on March 30.

The show has an element of reality TV, allowing viewers to see past the veneer of the polished Sun City showcase.

Whatever your feelings about pageants it’s bound to be entertaining.

One contestant says: “If you put your mind to something, you can achieve it! I never thought I could bring myself to hold a cockroach, but I did.” Really?

Yes, it is a bit like watching America or Africa’s Next Top Model, but in truth the Miss SA is a mixed bag of look-alikes. For example, one of the girl is interestingly the breadwinner in her family and all of them are multi-talented, multi-taskers.

You are what you consume, so we asked them what they ate, watched, read and listened to.

Almost all of them – like Anzél Stofberg, 22, from the Western Cape – love sushi. And children and the gym.

Durban hopeful Julia Petersen, 22, of Greenwood Park, is among those adamant about breaking the negative stereotypes around pageants.

“Beauty comes in different shapes and sizes,” she says.

“Adriana Lima is a gorgeous Victoria’s Secret model and what I admire about her is that she remained a virgin until the age of 27, when she got married.”

She’s reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

Mishka Patel, 21, of Stellenbosch, is reading Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho.

Abigail de Jager, 19, of Mpumalanga is reading Emma Charles’s How Could He Do It?, which is about a father who sexually assaulted his daughter for five years, and her favourite TV show is Cougar Town.

Moving on, Jade Hübner, 21, of Cape Town, says she listens to Nickelback on her ipod and “the rest doesn’t matter”. She started a cheerleading team at UCT and even designed the outfits.

Rolene Strauss, 21, from Volksrust in Mpumalanga, says she reads her obstetrics and surgery handbooks (she’s a medical student at the University of the Free State).

Tshegofatso Monggae, 20, of Roodepoort, is a student at the University of Johannesburg, studying entrepreneurial management.

“In the next five to 10 years I see myself owning petrol stations and a chain of franchises,” she says.

Matlala Mokoko, 23, from Marogwe in Limpopo, loves Mopani worms, mogodu/ tripe, chicken heads and feet.

Caylene Marais, 23, from Roodepoort, says: “I find that because of my history in pageants, and the stereotypes that are associated with pageant girls, people find it surprising that I have a brain and (on occasion), a personality.

“Also, I have represented my province in judo, water-polo and horse-riding.

“Lastly, I am not double, but triple-jointed,” she said.

Ziphozakhe Zokufa, 22, of Port Elizabeth, is a television production student at Afda, the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance. She plays the drums, piano, clarinet and guitar and sometimes writes her own music.

Dipalesa Mbola, 22, from Bloemfontein, is reading From Jesus with Love. Of course she listens to Hillsongs, but also Beyoncé.

She reads her Bible and loves Top Billing.

Tidimalo Sehlako, 22, from Vereeniging, is reading Shake the World by James Marshall Reilly.

She loves Jay-Z Suits on TV and a braai. I think she should win. - Omeshnie Naidoo, The Mercury

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