Written by Staff Writer at CNN
Miss South Africa Wandile Zulu made headlines after she attended the Miss Universe pageant in Israel, sparking an outrage among South Africans and other critics.
The 23-year-old says she joined the event in the country to “convey a powerful message through the Miss Universe platform,” after rising racism in her native country.
“I’m not afraid to say that I see South Africa through a very different lens after seeing how the news is portraying it,” she said in a statement earlier this week.
Asked by CNN how she felt when she had to leave the country, she said she had no “great feelings. I had some mixed feelings, mostly because of what’s been happening.”
She adds: “I just want it to be so on the record that because South Africa is so stereotyped and portrayed such a certain way that we are being stripped of the use of the entire country. We are being slighted.
“On the flip side, because people don’t understand that my country is so diverse, I also didn’t really want to act as a spokesperson for all South Africans and have everything that goes with South Africa explained in one voice and that would have been a horrible message to send out.”
She also said she supported Africa being represented in international beauty pageants.
“I hope that it’s a just a one-off with no motivation for me to go, but if we can be any part of Miss Universe, we’re all ready to go,” she said.
The Miss Universe pageant, the world’s biggest annual beauty contest, is scheduled to be held in November in Tel Aviv.
It has stirred an uproar on social media in Israel over the prospect of the event bringing unwelcome international attention to the country.
However, state-run Israel Broadcasting Authority refused to air the pageant, preferring instead to focus on a stunning drone footage of the country
Some on social media suggested the beauty pageant should have chosen countries like Iran or China instead, each of which has faced criticism over the treatment of women.