Beauty contests have always meant a lot to young people, with everyone wanting to be part of the experience of being crowned the queen. Pageantry has always attracted different views from diverse people, with some thinking that it does not depict the essence of beauty in a right way in regard to the sizes and body shapes that are always wanted and the features, and also the requirements that are always expected of the participants. Despite all these some still consider beauty pageants a good initiative meant to serve a good purpose for women in society rather than parading them as sex objects to be ogled at.
Former Miss Botswana, Malebogo Marumoagae, said to her beauty is about the whole package, and not only about one aspect of either seeing or touching. “When I say someone is beautiful it is the way I see them, how I interact with them and how pleasant it is to be around them. To me that is why beauty is more into the aspects of the heart than what people see on the outside,” Marumoagae said.
She said people should stop perceiving pageantry in just one light as being for people who look a certain way, but rather look out for other pageants which cater for women of different sizes and shapes. She said as a contestant one has to believe in themselves, focused on what they want to do and be confident. “It is the same as in any other quests that one wants to achieve, they have to work hard in order to accomplish that, and that is no different in beauty pageants. Someone really needs to work hard. You have to mentor yourself through that. When I participated in Miss Botswana in 2006 it is not like I was the most beautiful girl in the pageant. There were girls who were more beautiful than me but I have realised that it is all about being unique and having what people call the ‘x-factor’. So I knew that I had to have something that complimented my looks because I wasn’t even tall, I was short, so I had to work extra hard and I can say that beauty was not a strong point for me. I always told myself that the crown is mine and luckily it became mine," said Marumoagae who is completing her Master’s degree in Business Administration and also channeling her energy and time into her business-image and etiqutte consultancy and siblings.
Like many other young women her age Rebecca Keeme says she grew up loving beauty pageants and started participating at just nine years of age. From there she never looked back and took part in a lot of beauty contests. She only stopped competing when she was 20 years after discovering the path that she wanted to take in her life. She said religion and her spirituality also got in the way of her continuing with beauty pageantry. “When you take part in a beauty contest the first challenge is always about how you look. I was motivated to enter beauty contests mostly because of the prize and the responsibility that comes with it, because once you get the title it will spearhead what you want to achieve in life. I always had passion for women and how they can understand one another, and beauty contests were a platform for me to do those things. It is more about beauty with a purpose, but when I was at the University of Botswana (UB) I stopped contesting because I also realised the other side of pageants that I don't like. I am a spiritual person so as I grew older, I started having a problem with the bikini part because it does not honor my body the way that I know how, and that was the main reason why I stopped,” Keeme said.
Audrey Tshegang also shared that she has been doing beauty pageants when she was still young. However, she never had a chance to explore them as much as she would have loved to due to lack of resources. When she reached her twenties she started researching more about pageants and fashion because she is more interested in the latter. “I have tried a lot of beauty contests like Miss Earth, Miss Tourism among others and even though I did not get the crowns I will never stop pushing and trying until I get the results I want. To me beauty is from within and beauty pageants fulfill that purpose. Even though some people might take beauty pageants lightly there is a bigger picture to that since it takes courage and confidence for a woman to walk that ramp, so beauty pageants resemble many features of a woman,” said Tshegang.
Tebogo Lebanna considers beauty pageants as her heart and soul and that it means a lot to her. She said that she does not even do them for the sake of money, but rather because it is something that she loves. She states that apart from that the discouraging factor about beauty pageants in Botswana is that organisers give contestants false promises and there is a lot of corruption. “Beauty is how you present yourself as a woman both inside and outside, and you have to be willing to help people. One thing that is bad about beauty pageants organisers locally is that they give people wrong promises, it is not fair and that is why Batswana fail when they get to the international stage. Other than that you have to have a passion for it and be willing to put 120% in whatever that you do," she said.