It’s not fair to compare Mr SA to Miss SA, says pageant organiser

We chat to JP Robberts, CEO of the Mr SA brand, about social media's strong reaction to the pageant's 2019 finalists

25 April 2019 - 17:08 By Zola Zingithwa
Mr South Africa's top 20 finalists for 2019.
Mr South Africa's top 20 finalists for 2019.
Image: Mr South Africa Official/Instagram

When the organisers of the Mr South Africa pageant revealed their 20 finalists for 2019 on Thursday, social media was stirred into a frenzy as not everyone thought highly of the candidates vying for the crown.

When social media users started judging these men based purely on their looks — and not always tactfully — the pageant organisers jumped in to defend their choices with a series of tweets.

JP Robberts, CEO of the Mr SA brand, told TimesLIVE that he was surprised at the public's strong reaction to the top 20. 

"I feel it's unnecessary to attack someone on a personal level," said Robberts. "It's unnecessary to diminish their character and degrade them purely based on their looks without actually knowing that person's story, what they are capable of, or what they have done out of the goodness of their hearts."

But judging people on their looks is what many social media users felt a beauty pageant was all about. The conversation turned to comparing the Mr SA and Miss SA pageants; it was implied that the female contestants are subjected to much higher beauty standards.

"To a certain extent I can understand people's misconception in terms of comparing us to Miss South Africa. I can't speak for their judging or entry criteria because they are a separately owned entity," said Robberts.

What he did say was that, unlike Miss SA, Mr SA does not have an age limit cut-off for potential contestants. All you need to do to enter is to fill in a form stating you've done some community/charity work and submit basic headshots.

Robberts stresses that these headshots are only used to "get to know" the individual contestants.

He's keen to change the idea that strong male role models have to look like body builders or like they've just stepped off the runway. "I want to give a fair opportunity to every man who wants to enter Mr SA."

Miss SA pageant organisers had not responded to TimesLIVE's questions at the time of publication.