Two on world stage

Two plus size pageant contestants, Puleng Direko and Dipolelo Hou, have proven to the world that beneath lies beauty and beauty is a big deal.

The duo came out top in their maiden final at the 2018 Miss Plus World and Mrs Plus Intercontinental pageants.

They represented South Africa at this year’s global final, staged at the Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, from 25 to 27 July.

The two women, Direko (41) from Bloemfontein and Hou (35) from Botshabelo raised the South African flag as torch-bearers for local plus-sized contestants.

Hou (as the 2017 winner of Miss Plus South Africa), competed in the Miss Plus World category for single women, while Direko (Mrs Plus South Africa 2017) was in the Mrs Plus Intercontinental Ambassador category for married contestants. Both made it to the top five in their respective categories.

Hou scooped the prestigious Miss Plus World Ambassador title plus two individual prizes, Miss Photogenic and Miss Pantwear. Hou competed against Kristy Wells from Terrel, Texas, who was crowned the 2018 Miss Plus World.

Direko received the special title of Ms Plus Intercontinental Ambassador and was third runner-up in her category, won by Chakiva Latrell from Atlanta, Georgia. Latrell was crowned Mrs Plus Intercontinental.

Direko and Hou are the first from the Free State to compete globally after winning the South African leg of the pageant organised by the Chief Leeuw Foundation, in partnership with Media24’s Express as the print media sponsor.

“The achievement by Hou and Direko challenges other women in this category to have a strong sense of pride and to value themselves,” said Samuel Leeuw, director of the plus size franchise in South Africa.

“As the Miss Plus World South Africa franchise we are excited they made us proud on the international stage, representing the country for the first time ever. This I believe will demystify negative perception about curvy and shapely women. I hope others will be inspired and have a sense of appreciation.”

Leeuw believes the pageant is a perfect platform for women who have been excluded from beauty contests for centuries.

“I am happy for the two women. This was the second edition of the pageant in South Africa and with support of partners such as Express, I believe the pageant is growing in leaps and bounds.”