Zozibini Tunzi. Pictures: Supplied
Zozibini Tunzi. Pictures: Supplied
Zanele Phakathi
Zanele Phakathi
Chuma Matsaluka
Chuma Matsaluka
Sibabalwe Gcilitshana
Sibabalwe Gcilitshana
Xia Narain
Xia Narain
This year’s Miss South Africa top 16 is inclusive and consists of a queer woman, several women with natural hair, a plus-size model (a model who is size 8 and up) and a model with a birthmark on her face.

All of the women have distinctive stories to tell that has shaped them to be who they are today.

Kgothatso Dithebe, 24, of Centurion, Pretoria was bullied from a young age because of her birthmark.

Today, she has a successful modelling career.

“I was bullied a lot because of how I look. I dyed my hair black which was weird and I covered up my birthmark. I was called all sorts of names. Can you imagine being called an African map because my birthmark resembles that?

“I feel like me being here, a top 16 finalist, is one of the things I achieved because I was told I would never make it, but here I am,” says Dithebe.

Xia Narain, 23, from Durban says that Miss SA is different because it allows women to share stories about their journeys, no matter where they come from.

Zozibini Tunzi, 25, a Cape Peninsula University of Technology graduate, from the Eastern Cape shares the same sentiments as Narain. As a simple girl with short hair coming from one of the most poverty-stricken provinces in the country, Tunzi was inspired by former Miss SA, Basetsana Kumalo, to follow her dream of becoming a Miss SA.

Coming from crime plagued Nyanga in Cape Town, 21-year-old Chuma Matsaluka is in her third year at UCT, with a triple major of anthropology, industrial sociology, and political studies.

As one of the contestants with afro hair, Matsaluka thought she didn’t stand a chance in the competition as in high school, she was couldn’t wear her hair natural.

View this post on Instagram

It’s the little things in life 💕

A post shared by Chuma Chule Uphokuhle (@chuma_matsaluka) on

With the influence that will come with being crowned Miss SA 2019, Sibabalwe Gcilitshana, 24, from Nqamakwe in the Eastern Cape says she wants to use her star power to empower young queer people.

 Gcilitshana holds an Honours degree in justice and transformation from UCT and works as a parliamentary officer and researcher.

The youngest in the competition with over 70 pageant titles to her name is Zanele Phakathi, 20, from Soweto, who is a first-year Business Information Technology student at the University of Johannesburg. She says that all she wants is to give back to the disadvantaged communities through her NPO, ZaPowerhouse.

The Miss SA 2019 finale will take place at Menlyn Times Square in Pretoria on Women’s Day.

The event will be aired on Mzansi Magic, DStv channel 161.