It is common around the world to see winners of beauty pageant to embark on social responsibility assignments, by visiting and donating items to the less-privileged in society.
Recently Miss South Africa, 22-year-old Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, met a group of black orphans living with HIV at a soup kitchen in Johannesburg, wearing gloves as she distributed meals at Ikageng community centre.
Leigh tweeted a photo in which she was seen eating with the children while wearing her gloves.
— Demi-LeighNel-Peters (@DemiLeighNP) July 5, 2017
The photos shared got people talking instantly on Twitter. Some accused Leigh of being racist or afraid of touching the children because they were HIV positive.
“I want to know why she would put on latex gloves to touch black children,” one Twitter user demanded.
Another said: “I really can’t believe ‘our’ Miss SA is wearing latex so that she can touch these kids!”
A third suggested Leigh wore gloves “to protect herself from black kids” because she feared the children would “contaminate her” due to their color.
The hashtag #MissSAChallenge soon went viral on Twitter. Thousands of South Africans posted photos of themselves condemning and ridiculing the action of their beauty queen. Some posted photos of themselves wearing gloves to type at a desk, make a drink, and read a book.
— 🎂💎 23rd June 💎🎂 (@Tumi_majadibodu) July 6, 2017
After widespread criticism, Leigh issued a video statement explaining why she wore the gloves to distribute the food to the children
“It was purely to be as hygienic as possible. I really feel like my intention were really misunderstood but I would like to apologize if I offended anyone.”
South Africa was once ruled by white minority. The system, known as apartheid, segregated and limited the rights and freedom of black majority. This led to many ugly incidents, including deaths and destruction. Apartheid ended in 1994, but race still remains a sensitive issue in South Africa.