The Miss South Africa 2023 pageant has become embroiled in controversy after one of the Top 12 contestants, Levern José, chose to withdraw from the competition following claims of bullying in high school.
Allegations are Made Public
The allegations against José arose around a week ago, and at least two witnesses have come forward to allege that they watched her engage in bullying behaviours while she was a high school student. But José has come up to defend herself, stating that all she was doing was trying to protect herself from other bullies’ abuse.
José stated publicly, “As a person who has overcome the trauma of being bullied, I spent my school years learning how to protect myself from being bullied again.”
José explained her stance further and expressed regret that her actions may have inadvertently injured someone else. “If my actions in protecting myself caused harm to anyone, I offer my sincerest apologies,” she stated, and she meant it. She continued, “The pain of being a target has left an indelible mark on my heart,” and “I would never intentionally cause hurt or contribute to someone else’s suffering.”
José also made a personal vow to fight bullying in her address by detailing occasions in which she had been mistreated. She urged the community to oppose all forms of violence and intimidation. “Please be aware that I am determined to work against bullying and raise awareness about this issue,” she said.
The Organization’s Reaction
In response to the growing events, the Miss South Africa organisation condemned bullying and voiced their disdain for it. Stephanie Weil, the company’s CEO, acknowledged José’s decision to withdraw from the competition. “We accept Levern’s decision to withdraw from the competition and respect her for owning her truth and taking this time to focus on her healing,” she said. Counselling services are being provided to José as part of the help he is receiving from the Miss South Africa organisation, in partnership with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG).
Who Will Take the Initiative?
Now that José’s slot has been relinquished, who will participate in the Miss South Africa Top 12 pageant? This is the question that has everyone’s attention right now. As of yet, the organisation has not provided any information about a replacement for the job.
Bullying and mental health concerns are now front and centre as a result of this tragedy, and both are vital topics for continuous attention and discussion in our culture. While we await more developments from the Miss South Africa organisation, one thing remains constant: the issue of bullying and mental health will continue to be a topic of discussion.
About The Author:
Melanie Jacobs is a leading fashion and beauty writer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. With a decade of experience tracking trends and analysing style evolutions, she offers readers an unmatched insight into the dynamic world of fashion.