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Miss SA hopeful Luyanda Zuma overcame colourism and body issues

I thought my dark skin, small boobs meant I was supposed to be a boy – Zuma

Masego Seemela Online journalist
Miss SA top 10 finalist Luyanda Zuma wants to advocate for colourism and gender-based violence.
Miss SA top 10 finalist Luyanda Zuma wants to advocate for colourism and gender-based violence.
Image: Supplied.

Though 2022 Miss SA top 10 finalist Luyanda Zuma was not born when Basetsana Makgalemele took the crown in 1995, she cites the enduring beauty and now media mogul known as Basetsana Kumalo as her inspiration.

Born 20 years ago in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma studies live performance at AFDA arts college in Johannesburg. One of her biggest regrets is being ashamed of being a dark-skinned girl when she was growing up.

Having tried all types of skin-lightening treatments as a teenager, Zuma has now grown to love herself beyond her pigmentation.

A GBV survivor, the international model hopes to share her story during her reign as the new pageant queen. She strongly believes her story of being a survivor will help other victims.

Zuma is one of the 10 women who will compete for the Miss SA crown on August 13 at Time Square, Pretoria.

The other finalists are Itumeleng Parage, Keaoleboga Nkashe, Lebogang Mahlangu, Luvé Meyer, Anarzade Omar, Ayanda Thabethe, Ndavi Nokeri, Pearl Ntshehi and Tamsyn Jack.

Why did you feel the need to bleach your skin?

I felt kind of isolated from home. My siblings are all light skinned so is my mom… the only person who isn’t light skinned is my father. Being the odd one out played with my self-esteem that made me think that maybe I was supposed to be a boy seeing that I’m the only girl who isn’t light skinned.   

I would use any chemical that’s written bleach so that I was able to lighten my skin. I remember filling a bath tub filled with water to bleach my skin – that nearly damaged my skin completely. That’s when I realised that’s absolutely nothing I can do about my skin’s pigmentation.  

What was your family dynamic like? 

My mother is a primary school principal and my father is a forensic investigator. I have three siblings and we enjoy playing 30 Seconds as a family.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Resilient. Courageous. Fearless.

Image: Supplied.

Why Miss SA?

I believe there are millions of girls in SA who are battling the same kind of issues I faced growing up. I want to show them that they too can come out of it victorious.

What are you hoping to do during your reign?

To stand against colourism, gender-based violence, and to advocate for self-love and self-acceptance to help empower women to recognise their true beauty and accept themselves for who they truly are.

How do you feel being the youngest in the competition?

Very proud, it shows how brave I am to compete against women who are older than me.

How has your journey been so far?

Amazing! I’ve learnt about myself quite a lot more. I may be in the top 10 but I have been exposed to so much so far.

Do you have any secret talent that we don’t know of?

I can act. I can also bounce a hockey ball on the stick for a longer period.

Is there any personal feature that you’re insecure about?

My breasts because they are quite small. Having small boobs made me believe that I was meant to be a boy.

If you were not afraid what would you do?

Change a lot of the laws that limit women from being empowered.

What is the biggest lesson life has taught you? 

Don't let anyone dictate your life.

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