Miss big mama to go regional

The national final for Miss Biggy Matofotofo was recently held in Harare and Bulawayo’s Nobesuthu Sibanda (21) was crowned the inaugural national queen. A series of provincial editions had been held countrywide prior to the national inception that attracted a lot of interest from the public and the corporate world. Pageant organiser Lwazi Mbowa recently revealed that she had received calls from agents in the Southern African region seeking permission to host the pageant. “The pageant seems to have attracted a lot of interest. Queries about the pageant have been coming from as far as Europe but some African countries that include Tanzania, Lesotho and Malawi have actually called to ask for rights to hold their own pageants. “It is encouraging to note that the pageant has attracted so much interest since I just started it as a pilot project that aptly fell in the trial and error category” Mbowa said. She added that the positive response the pageant had received during the provincial finals had given her a lot confidence to speak in support of her idea. Miss Biggy-Matofotofo was the first pageant of its kind in Zimbabwe and it was initially met by various sounds of disapproval, as many did not agree with the idea of ‘fluffy’ models. However as the provincial editions came to life people began to realise that it was a noble idea meant to dislodge stereotypes that for a long time had been associated with weighty women. It had become a universally accepted conception that only the slim and tall can walk the ramp and many fat women who aspired to be models were frustrated with some trying various means of shedding weight just to look ‘beautiful’. But the pageant altered the belief as it targeted women who wear size 40 and above that are aged between 16 and 55 years. From teenagers to grandmothers, numerous heavy women came forward to try their luck and express confidence in their bodies. The pageant was held in a traditional way which made it honourable and fit for family viewing. There was no swimwear category and the music that led the models was purely African. Mbowa’s idea was to come up with something that could be described as African way of conceptualising beauty. She said it was important for the world to understand how Africa viewed beauty before the wave of colonisation swept across the continent. It is properly detailed in the history of Africa that big women were chosen to be traditional chiefs’ wives and generally the heavily built women were considered to be attractive. Thus in Zimbabwe there are Shona words like ‘Chivhindikiti’ and ‘Mutsikapanotinhira’ that are used to praise the big women while IsiNdebele (another Zimbabwean language) coined words ‘Sidulha’ and ‘Matofotofo’ for the same purpose. The western idea that beauty is only in the slim and tall was hammered into Africans during colonialism and it became the widely accepted conceptualisation of beauty to the extent that all beauty pageants continent-wide emphasised on weight and height restrictions. The coming of Miss-Biggy Matofotofo, therefore, brought a huge sigh of relief to big women and the confidence with which they graced the ramp in Zimbabwe as the first pageant grew from provincial to national level this year. The growth of the pageant to a regional level would be a welcome development, as Africa would have shown its capability to redefine beauty according to its own values. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is also credited for coming up wiith the Miss Rural pageant, which kicked off last year. The pageant, which scouts for beauties in rural areas, is currently underway in the country. It was also a noble idea considering that the largest population in Africa resides in rural areas.

June 2006
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