By Selokela Molamodi
A wise woman once said: “There is no better representation of beauty that someone who is unafraid to be herself.��� This quote has clearly had an impact on platforms, such as beauty pageants, where beauty has always been about physical appeal. For example, pageants like Miss SA have had a significant change of standards. For example, the requirement that participants should have something they represent is a significant factor that gives meaning to beauty. It does this in a sense that it gives every participant an opportunity to think about who and what they represent when they stand on they wear the sash and stand on the stage.�� Regardless of what how small or big the issue might be, every problem carries substantial weight enough to be spoken about and represented.�� This is the story of the brave and inspirational Lehlogonolo Machaba.
Lehlogonolo Machaba is one of the participants who have revived the representation factor. Machaba is a transgender woman who made to the top 30 of the prestigious pageant, which is a big win for the LGBTQIA+ community. Asked what making it into the top 30 means, she responded by saying: ���It���s revolutionary as it shows that we are moving to a great place as a society.��� She also went to state that she never though that, even in her wildest dreams, could happen.
There is no question about why Lehlogonolo is in the top 30. ��She is a model, a fashion graduate, LGBTIA+ rights advocate, a big proponent of ���Black Trans Lives Matter��� and most importantly, the first transwoman to be on Miss SA top 30! With the prize of Miss SA in sight, Lehlogonolo aims to be nothing but authentic throughout the competition. Not just for the competition but for the people who look up to her even beyond the competition.
There have been so many killings of members of the LGBTQIA+ community recently thus making it dangerous for them to be open about their sexuality. ���I am a transgender woman, and will always be. Yes, I am a woman but coining the term helps young people and other trans people to live fully as their authentic selves,��� she emphasized. Despite being one of the few countries to legalize same sex marriages in Africa, South Africa remains brutally unsafe for people to open up about their sexualities. However, Machaba believes that being open will build solidarity thus creating a safer environment of education, empathy and support.
Using significant platforms such as the Miss SA platforms highlights the seriousness of representation. In light of August being women���s month, it is important to also remember that women are not a heterogeneous group. Therefore they deserve to be celebrated in their diversity. Lehlogonolo is the epitome of celebrating divert, openly and fully. The more people like her our society has, the better.
Representation is more than having faces on stages, it is about having voices that can be heard when it matters the most. Lehlogonolo puts it even better in her own words: ���Representation means being seen. I knew what being transgender was until I saw someone famous speak about it.��� What is even clearer is that it is important to have people who share our pain, reality and truth occupy space that matter to us. This is how we are affirmed that our issues matter and that someone with more influence than ourselves, takes them seriously. This is how we, as people on the ground, know that we are seen and heard. This is how we know that we matter.