A Gqeberha woman who underwent three knee operations that left her scarred never thought it would be possible to become a semi-finalist for a national pageant.
But when Clarisa Annandale, 23, learnt of Mr and Miss Unseen International’s mission to celebrate uniqueness and all body types while making a positive impact, she knew she had found the right platform.
Annandale is among 30 semi-finalists seeking to raise awareness about gender-based violence and bullying.
The 2021 pageant has adopted the Stand United SA anti-gender-based violence organisation as its charity beneficiary.
“Semi-finalists are raising awareness about the organisation and raising funds for its emergency response website,” Annandale said.
Victims of gender-based violence and their loved ones can report incidents anonymously on the website and seek help.
“By doing so, they will trigger a silent alert at the gender-based violence command centre for response.”
The funds will help towards making the website accessible without data and for “Go Bags” that will provide victims who have escaped their abusers with essential needs such as toiletries.
“When victims have managed to escape they can’t go back to fetch anything because their lives are in danger.
“So the Go Bag will help them with some of their immediate needs for up to a week.
“Stand United SA is also looking to establish a centre of safety for victims of abuse,” Annandale said.
Annandale said the organisation was close to her heart because she had experienced bullying and had no-one to talk to at the time.
“I come from a small town where people had a lot to say, so I just kept quiet about a lot of things I was going through because I was scared.
“This platform is for people who are scared to open up to the people around them,” she said.
The Fairview resident said the pageant’s celebration of people’s unique looks caught her attention.
“Most of my life I’ve struggled to celebrate my body and how I look.”
She said her body image had become worse after her three operations.
A former powerlifter, Annandale snapped her medial patellofemoral ligament while doing sumo wrestling in Germany in 2018.
In 2019, she fell and broke her knee cap, setting her recovery several steps back.
She returned to the operating table in 2020 for a bone graph after some complications.
From the 30 semi-finalists, 15 finalists will be chosen on June 25 and Mr and Miss Unseen International will be crowned in October in Cape Town.
“The pageant is really just about going out there and making a difference in the world no matter how you look,” Annandale said.
Source – HeraldLive