Belinda Nansasi, the winner of inaugural Miss Curvy Uganda crown has pledged to lend her support towards the fight against the deadly cervical cancer during her reign as the curvy beauty queen.
“There are several other projects under Miss Curvy Uganda like the environmental programme, Keep Uganda Clean. You know cleanliness begins with women in homes in Uganda. We as women under Miss Curvy Uganda shall work on this project to keep Uganda clean,” Nansasi says.
Nansasi emerged winner of the 2019 Miss Curvy Uganda beauty pageant after beating 24 contestants at the finals held on April 26 at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala. The first runner-up was Praise Nansamba and the second runner-up was Mariam Namukasa. One hundred and forty women registered for the contest in February 2019.
Nansasi won herself a Jeep Cherokee, a fully sponsored trip to Turkey and a full scholarship to pursue a master’s degree of her choice at Victoria University in Kampala. Her wish is to pursue a master’s degree in public relations. The other 24 finalists will also receive 70 per cent scholarships at Victoria University.
Nansasi will represent Uganda at the 2019 Miss Curvy Africa contest in Nigeria later this year and the 2020 Miss Curvy World beauty pageant.
As to how she felt when she was declared the winner, Nansasi recalls: “I felt so good. It was a good experience and overwhelming. I was humbled to be declared Miss Curvy Uganda 2019.”
What does winning this pageant mean to her? “It is a great honour for me to have this crown. I am going to wear the crown with utmost dignity, respect and humbleness. And I am looking forward to a successful reign.”
Asked what motivated her to enter the contest, the 25-year-old, confident beauty queen, said: “Since it was the very first time, there were lots of criticism and body shaming of plus-size women. So, I joined the pageant to prove to the negative people that being over size is beautiful and we can be beauty queens.”
Nansasi was born to Moses Mubiru (RIP) and Rose Khainza in Mbale District, eastern Uganda. She attended Mount St Mary’s College Namagunga in Mukono District for O- and A-Levels. She joined Makerere University for a BA in Community Psychology, graduating in 2016.
Nansasi, who is single and a mother to a three-year-old girl, works for her family-owned gas distribution business called as an administrator.
The inaugural contest did not have a smooth start. While lunching the beauty pageant under the Tulambule Tourism project in Kampala on February 5, 2019, the state minister for tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda, kicked up a storm in the country after he hinted at adding curvy and sexy Ugandan women to the list of tourism products to attract tourists.
“We have naturally endowed nice looking women that are amazing to look at. Why don’t we use these people as a strategy to promote our tourism industry?” Kiwanda said.
The idea of adding curvaceous women on the tourism list did not go down well with the public. Many called Kiwanda’s objectifying of women’s bodies a gross insult, demeaning and a direct assault on their personal dignity. They accused him of trying to promote sex tourism and maximising Uganda’s erotic capital.
As to how it feels that the first Miss Curvy Uganda has finally been held after all the controversy it generated in the beginning, the CEO, Miss Curvy Uganda, Annie Mungoma says: “It feels good. I feel so proud amidst all the challenges that we faced in the beginning. No one would hesitate to imagine that it would not happen. But it did.”
As to how she managed to withstand the pressure from those who were against the holding of the contest, Mungoma, said: “Actually to me it was not pressure because the people were only attacking the contest and they really did not know what it was about. They looked at it in the tourism perspective and in a negative way. And yet it has a very big potential to market our country.”
Reacting to rights activists who argue that beauty pageants are all about the commodification of female bodies, Mungoma, says: “You can’t separate a woman from beauty. If someone comes to show case her beauty or fashion, they will not only show case their heads and leave the other parts of the body behind. It is a package. A woman will look herself in mirror even five times a day. So if someone is appreciating herself, it does not mean that she is just parading herself.”
According to Nansasi, pageants are there to appreciate the beauty of women. “If someone loses in a pageant it does not mean they are not good enough. But it teaches someone to improve on certain aspects of their lives because we are all not perfect. We can only improve with time. For example, the Miss Curvy Uganda pageant is there to appreciate the beauty of plus-size women in Uganda through inspiration and empowerment because for a long time we have been so unremarkable and stigmatised. So there is no way one’s body is being used and yet this pageant is there to inspire and empower.”
Plus-size women are commonly referred to as ‘big pig,’ ‘fuso,’ ‘magulu kumi,’ or ‘fat woman’ in Uganda. The organisers of the contest therefore aim to banish the “beauty is size zero” idea and attract healthy women who are proud of the way they look and also to celebrate natural curves, which come along with living healthy and as such, Miss Curvy will promote a healthy attitude to body image.
Body image and beauty
Being overweight has traditionally been a sign of prosperity. While underweight is often perceived as an indication of poor feeding, illness and disease.
In his paper “Sex and the Female Body in Shona Society” published in the Journal of Pan African Studies, Godwin Makaudze, writes: “A beautiful body of a fully grown woman among the Shona, just like the Acholi of Uganda that p’Bitek (1986) talks about, had big and round buttocks, big and stiff breasts, smooth legs, round face with a centrally placed nose, white teeth (if a gap existed between the front teeth, the better), medium ears and a brown complexion.”
As to what makes a beautiful African woman, Mungoma noted that: “A beautiful African woman is one who is endowed naturally. We are seeing women today who are going for surgeries to get artificial curves and yet our women are naturally endowed with curves. They may want to look beautiful but they can get health complications from these surgeries.”
Nansasi concurred proudly saying, “A beautiful African woman is a humble, decent and curvaceous. If you look at me, this is African – beautiful and black.”
Art as being concerned with the production of aesthetic objects, then we can truly say of African aesthetic value that it is immensely rich.”
School life is always good, but not for Nansasi, who was abused because of her body.
Male teachers and students in the upper classes preyed on her for sex causing psychological torture.
She discloses an incident in secondary school, which prompted a change of schools in Senior Two.
“Upon winning the Music, Dance and Drama (MDD) gala, our house was granted a treat at a beach in Entebbe.
While there, a male teacher approached us and requested to teach me how to swim.
He insisted, and oblivious to his ill intentions, I agreed. He got a floater and asked me to get hold of it.
He led me farther away from the beach where he was certain I could not swim back and then forced my pants down.
Luckily, I was in denim shorts and he could not take them off easily.
I cried out for help and my elder sister ran to my rescue,” she speaks with emotion.
Her smile slowly fades from her face similar to the rainbow from the sky as it loses its colours.
Nansasi adds that she was traumatised and called her father who stormed the school with fury and threatened to sue.
On second thought, he felt the school was not worth it and took his daughter to another institution of learning.
At the new school, it was the same drama of receiving unwanted advances, but she is glad nobody inflicted physical harm.
She returned to school every term in a bolder and tougher way.
However, the graceful queen reminisces, with regret, how her male friends in A-Level who were punished unfairly.
They were made to mop the main hall or work on the farm simply because they were perceived to be her favourites. She says the female teachers did not intervene in her woes because they treated her like a ‘co-wife’.
In Senior Five, she gained confidence from the ‘perfect imperfections’; it dawned on her that she needed to be proud of her body.
“Classmates likened my body to that of Nicki Minaj. I would mime Anaconda and they would chant ‘our Nicki!’
I became a school celebrity,” she chuckles.
At university, she was the class representative and this was her defense mechanism against any possible advances from lecturers.
Nansasi found love during her university days.
Upon finishing school in 2016, she conceived and gave birth to a girl. After a while, she travelled to Mbale, her maternal home, for postnatal care.
When she returned to Kampala two years later, her boyfriend had moved on with another woman.
It was devastating, but she forgave him.
The single mother is glad that he plays his fatherly role and supports their daughter.
Nevertheless, her ideal man must be god fearing, humble, down-to-earth and respectful. “I do not want an alcoholic and relationships are not a priority at the moment,” she warns.
Nansasi, a resident of Entebbe, is a devoted Christian of the Anglican faith.
She encourages young girls to always come out when threatened with abuse because anything worse can happen. “Do not breakdown in silence. Talk to your administrators and your parents.”
What do you like about your body?
My legs, lips and eyes
What is the most memorable comment about your body?
A vendor downtown sarcastically exclaimed, “Eh! Sister Nga Okoze!” ( Sister you have lost weight)
Posho and any sauce
Nigerian actor Frederick Leonard
Best Song: You don’t know love by Olly Murs
Air hostess but the aviation industry does not favour us.