PAGEANT organiser and judge, Limakatso Makutle, says local beauty queens can only be competitive internationally if they are groomed at an early age.
Makutle also told the Weekender most people chosen as judges at local pageants were ill-equipped for the task, to the detriment of the development of the sector.
“As local pageant organisers, we can promote our sector by grooming beauty queens from as early an age as four years so they can grow up learning the ropes of pageantry,” she said.
“My intention is to sit down with various national organisers and map out a strategy to make this approach a reality countrywide.”
Makutle has been organising pageants since 2008, with her focus primarily on young ladies between the ages of 18 to 25. However, she realised in 2010 they would be too old to fully master the craft.
“It was not easy to train aspiring beauty queens in that age range because they won’t have the poise of someone who was groomed in pageantry,” Makutle said.
“As a result, our contestants would end up looking clumsy at international pageants, while those from other countries would be oozing with confidence because of their experience.”
She added: “As the old Sesotho saying aptly notes; Thupa e otlolloa e sale metsi, (it is easier to straighten a fresh stick than an old one), I decided to start organising pageants for kindergarteners in 2010 so we could be at par with our competitors at international pageants.
“It is easier for kids to grasp whatever they are taught. Even though they may initially be shy to perform in front of people, they are better able to gain confidence with time.”
Among the young beauty queens Makutle has mentored and taken to international pageants is Rethabile Thamae (16) who recently participated in the Miss Teen International 2016 pageant in Thailand. Thamae made it to the pageant’s top six and was also awarded a Friendship award. Sandra Concalves (13) won the Little Miss Eco World in Turkey last October.
Makutle has also been a judge in three international pageants, with the most recent being in Thailand this year as well as Turkey in 2015 and 2012. She said being a pageantry judge was more than just judging a contestant on their outward appearance.
“Most of the people who are made judges don’t have any pageantry experience. As a result, they base their assessment merely on the appearance of the contestants and the support they would receive from the audience. That is a wrong approach, because the winner will then not be selected on merit,” said Makutle.
“One way to resolve this challenge is for pageant directors to play the role of judges regardless of who has organised the pageant. Another option would be to make use of people who have been beauty queens in the past, especially those with international experience as they will know and easily understand the requirements.”