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Inclusive beauty pageant established to uplift women
The Ukusinda project has helped to provide toiletries to at least 1 000 people in need. From left are Sisipho Mayo, Liesl Vers, Donicia Marks, Lizaan Vos, Teneal Fredericks, Briollynne Jenniker, Mabatho Diamond and Ntomozuko Mafu.

AFTER enduring a traumatic childhood and later having a negative experience as a beauty pageant contestant, Teneal Fredericks (23), from Salsoneville, went on to establish her own beauty pageant, in a bid to provide a platform for all women to be free and learn how to love themselves.

Teneal Fredericks founded Radiant Pageants to provide women with a unique platform. Photos: Supplied

Fredericks, founder, and CEO of Radiant Pageants, had a very traumatic childhood after being raped at the age of nine, being bullied at primary school and high school and suffering from depression.

Despite all the difficulties she faced during her childhood, Fredericks wanted to make a positive impact in the lives of other women.

In 2018, she participated in her first beauty pageant, but to her surprise it was not as amazing as she imagined, which gave her the much-needed push to establish her own beauty pageant company.

“While competing as a contestant, I was body shamed and I witnessed a fellow contestant being disgraced when it was revealed that she had a child,” said Fredericks.

To start a cycle of change, Fredericks, who is currently studying part-time towards obtaining her bachelor’s degree in public administration, wanted to create a platform for women to feel empowered to showcase their skills and their strengths.

“I desperately wanted to have a platform for young women to escape to. I think creating my own beauty pageant was also for the little girl in me screaming for help and guidance. I wanted to shine like the radiant sun or allow my light to shine through the darkness of my past,” said Fredericks.

After doing research and planning for at least one year, Fredericks, who is also a part time model, motivational speaker, content creator and writer, eventually got to work and established her own beauty pageant company in August 2019.

“Pageantry is such a beautiful activity and it allows women to grow, but many beauty pageants out there have broken contestants physically and mentally and I wanted to fix what has been broken,” said Fredericks.

“I saw a gap and realised that women have always been placed in a box. I needed to make a mark to fight against all the misconceptions of pageantry and society’s ideas about women.”

According to Fredericks, Radiant Pageants which will host its first beauty pageant competition on December 20, is the first in the world to allow teen moms, transgender, plus-sized and Muslim women to participate and to be a part of something that does not judge or persecute women for simply being themselves.

“Radiant Pageants is the only beauty pageant that ever went against all rules and regulations to establish such a phenomenal platform.

“I hope that the world recognises and adopts my beauty pageant company’s vision and mission,” said Fredericks.

Apart from the winner of Radiant Pageants walking away with a cash prize, the beauty pageant also offers a variety of courses to their 60 contestants which have been certified by professionals.

The various courses work on enhancing the contestants’ skills and providing them with the necessary tools to succeed in life.

In addition to running her own beauty pageant company, Fredericks also established a survival kit project, titled Ukusinda, to provide toiletries to women, men and children in need.

With help from money raised through fund-raising initiatives, donations from various donors and from her own pocket, Fredericks has been able to help at least 1 000 people staying in homeless shelters and children’s homes.

The project has also collaborated with the Walmer Township Projects, which is run by Julia Mbambo and Glenda Brunette, to help many in the community.

Fredericks hopes to continue with the Ukusinda project to distribute essential supplies to those in need monthly.

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