Demi-Leigh: Miss Universe Allows Me To Be The Woman I Want To Be
She's not had time to enjoy one of the things she's missed the most about South Africa, a braai (barbecue), but the new Miss Universe, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, can't be happier to be back on home soil. Speaking to the media at several events in Johannesburg after her arrival yesterday, she spoke about how her life has changed since that Sunday evening in late November when she was crowned the 66th Miss Universe. She described the last two months as a whirlwind of meetings, traveling and appearances while getting used to living in New York City at the same time.
Nel-Peters said that she was looking forward to returning to her hometown, Sedgefield, and also hosting workshops to promote her Unbreakable campaign. She started the campaign after she was hijacked a month after her crowning and aims to teach women the necessary knowledge and skills to overcome situations like the one she found herself in.
Speaking of the public's perception of beauty pageants, Nel-Peters said that she believed that the stereotype often is a perception which the public holds onto. She explained that the Miss Universe Organization does not aim to fit her into a mold and that they are giving her the opportunity to develop herself into the person she wants to be. When they heard about her Unbreakable campaign, they gave their full support for her to continue that on top of her other duties. "I was also one of the shortest contestants there and I still won," she chuckled before adding that she hopes to change people's mindsets about the way they look at beauty pageant contestants.
One of the highlights of her reign so far has been attending the Golden Globes with South Africa's first and only other Miss Universe, Margaret Gardiner, who won the title in 1978. She told the media that she was in awe being in the same room as celebrities, such as Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie and said it made her this title is a stepping stone for her to become a phenomenal woman in her own right. She expressed her desire to become involved in some form with Winfrey's school in South Africa.
A string of former Miss South Africa's including Miss World 1994 runner-up and business tycoon, Basetsana (Makgalamele) Khumalo, Kerishnie Naicker (Miss SA 1997), Lorna Potgieter (Miss SA 1984) and 1990's Suzette van der Merwe, who is the Head of Commercial Communication for the main sponsor of the Miss South Africa Pageant, Cell C, were on hand to congratulate the 22 year old beauty. Nel-Peters thanked them for inspiring her to be the woman she is today. She also thanked her family and her trainer and stylist, Werner Wessels, who is responsible for her wardrobe and styling during her homecoming week for helping her to making her Miss Universe dream becoming a reality.
Andre Sleigh / Global Beauties