Change the narrative on pageants

Alliyah Mdletshe from Verulam is an entrant in the Miss Umgababa 2024 pageant. | SUPPLIED

Alliyah Mdletshe from Verulam is an entrant in the Miss Umgababa 2024 pageant. | SUPPLIED

Published Feb 25, 2024


Durban — Teen model Alliyah Mdletshe, 15, from Verulam aims to change the narrative on pageants as she uses her influence to create mental health awareness.

The bubbly teen said she believed in women’s empowerment and combating other social ills, and that was what drove her to become a model.

“I strongly believe in projecting one’s authenticity. I want to change the views of society on beauty pageants being only about beauty because they are also a platform to empower young girls.

“It is a place for them to develop their analytical skills,” said Alliyah.

“Modelling has a positive impact on people’s mental health as they gain confidence and skills that they can apply in situations which would previously have made them anxious or depressed,” she said.

She said modelling had contributed greatly to the development of positive traits in her personality.

“I have entered a pageant that serves as a platform for empowering and uplifting our community, Miss Umgababa 2024. I would love to give an insight of my journey and importance of pageantry in society. I believe that from the time I started modelling, my confidence grew as I met different people, and learnt about their different perspectives of life,” she said.

Alliyah also believes in collaboration as she proudly wears clothes by local designer Lihle James (Ndim Ndim brand), who will also dress the other models at the Umgababa Pageant.

She said she hoped the government would support pageants and perhaps employ psychologists to engage with contestants and schools to help tackle potential mental health issues early.

When she is not modelling or studying, Alliyah is in the kitchen trying to find her way around cooking and baking, or in the garden with her sister Omuhle Khumalo.

She advised aspiring models to enter pageants because they’d learn important lessons: “The most important thing when you enter any pageant is to validate yourself.”

Independent on Saturday