Many young girls grow up dreaming about one day wearing a crown.
Ferini Dayal was one of those little girls and now holds the Miss International South Africa title.
“I’ve dreamt about being a beauty queen my entire life, growing up with my dad who is a broadcasting engineer, who filmed many of the pageants in South Africa and my mom who was dressing me up with my crown on so many birthdays when I was younger, its truly a dream that became a reality,” says the 27-year-old Joburg based queen.
Not known to many, Miss International is the third largest beauty pageant in the world, after Miss Universe and Miss World. It's held yearly in Tokyo, Japan.
This year the final will take place on 13 December.
“No African country has yet to win a crown, I will be the first doctor/surgeon sent from any African country and I’m hoping I will be the first to bring home the crown,” she adds.
While she always dreamt of wearing a crown, becoming a doctor was another.
She completed a biomedical sciences degree in physiology and graduated at 20.
In 2015, she began her medical degree and completed it in 2018.
“As I grew older and understood what the platforms represent, how the women involved in the pageants create change and globally are able to run campaigns and advocate for people throughout the world, I realised how my passion for medicine tied into a childhood dream.”
“I’ve been practising as a doctor for four years now and recently started practising as a surgeon, but throughout my career, I’ve focused on giving back and supporting causes close to my heart which is exactly what Miss International stands for.”
Besides being a beauty queen and a doctor, she’s the founder of Dayal Foundation as well.
A charitable institute which aims to create a difference in many South Africans' lives through fundraising and medical advocacy.
“Over the last year and a half my foundation has raised over a million rand in various projects which aim to educate the public on health topics, eradicate poverty and hunger, improve access to health and basic health needs, and these coincide with the goals of the United Nations.”
During the peak of Covid, she implemented an initiative that focused on donating gifts to children in paediatric wards, this became known as the ‘Dayal Christmas Drive’.
Over two hundred and fifty thousand rand worth of toys were donated to spoil each child.
We asked Dayal a few questions about the pageant and what the title means to her as well as her views on what beauty is.
Why did you enter Miss International?
I entered Miss International because their intentions as an organisation aligned with my values as a person, and I knew that it would be a platform where I'd be able to live out my purpose and affect change on an international scale.
I believe that there are no coincidences in life, and my path in medicine, surgery, philanthropy and pageantry brought me to this exact moment for a bigger purpose and I intend to putting my utmost best to represent our country and living out my intentions to make a change in this world.
What would winning the title mean to you and SA?
To win Miss International would be absolutely out of this world, it would be my childhood dream turning into a fairytale reality. I have so many ideas and so much I know that I can accomplish and to have the support of an organisation headed by a strong powerful woman by my side would be remarkable and I know South Africa would be proud of me too.
To be the first African candidate to bring home a crown and the first South African would put us as a country on the map for a prestigious competition which ultimately will highlight South African women as winners in the top three pageants and we would be a bigger force to be reckoned with than we already are. It would be an honour.
What is beauty to you?
Beauty to me is the outward reflection of your inner expression, it's about being confident in your pyjamas and your bikini, about being beautiful with and without makeup, and being truly happy with who you are, because that's when we take pride in our appearance. It's about loving ourselves, showcasing our personality, and being unafraid of being true to who we are.
With social media and filters, people now have an even more warped idea of what beauty is. How do we change the perception of beauty?
We live in a world where so much of what we see and believe is not reality, there is a tainted essence to what we perceive is truth.
It's so important to be true to who you are and authentic in what your truth is. If we want to change the perception of beauty, we need to instil values that remind our younger generations of what authenticity is, that confidence in who you are, how you treat others, your knowledge and the ability to create an impact on another person's life is what truly is the constituents of life.
Because the reality is that beauty will fade, money will come and go, filters will change, and the truth of who you are and what you are will always be visible. We need to promote confidence in what's real and not what’s perfect and implore people to understand that perfection is achieved when you are happy with yourself not on the basis of what others expect of you, when we can achieve that we will change the perception of beauty.
What are your thoughts on aesthetic beauty treatments?
I have trained for the past three years in aesthetics and have my own aesthetic practice in Fourways at Cure Day Clinic. I fell in love with aesthetics simply because of the confidence I was able to restore in a woman who no longer felt happy with themselves for whatever personal reason they may have.
For me, aesthetics is about enhancing natural beauty, not about changing and distorting what exists.
There most definitely is a place for it in society, and I’ve personally seen the change it can make in a woman who had trauma and her scars are removed with aesthetics, or a girl with acne who had severe scarring that was treated, or a woman after pregnancy who trained and lost weight and had her stretch marks reduced to match her new hard earned body.
But as in everything in life, we need to understand balance, and moderation, and understand that although these treatments are available it's not intended to create all faces to look the same, it is intended to enhance features that exist which make each person unique, and that’s how I run my practice by reminding women of what would restore their confidence for themselves which is all that should matter.
What is the most important beauty treatment advice you have for women?
Education is key to beauty, there are so many avenues that are suboptimal and not safe, ensure you choose people and a team that understands your desires for change and know that each person's body and mind are different.
A procedure that might have worked on your favourite celebrity might not give you the result you’re searching for, importantly if there is something you feel needs change, ensure that change is being made solely for your confidence, not for anyone else. Most importantly focus on you, beauty resonates as a reflection beneath the external, if you are happy regardless of the treatments you’ll reflect happiness and your body will too.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would that be?
If I was asked this question a few years ago, there would be many things I would’ve changed. But I’ve worked so incredibly hard over these past few years to be the woman I want to be, knowing that I would be entering pageantry and be an advocate for health in my career, I worked on my weaknesses, focused on my strengths and I'm at a point where I'm content with who I am and I can proudly say that.
What message do you have for the youth?
Find your purpose in the world and once you’re able to do that perfection comes easily.
Be brave in your choices if they align with your purpose and always believe in yourself, your authenticity and your ability to make the change if your intentions are pure, your purpose will never fail.