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A snapshot of our February/March cover story featuring Shudufhadzo Musida

Miss South Africa 2020 Shudufhadzo Musida has achieved so much after her reign, from educating about mental health through her #MindfulMondays online series to her recent appointment by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as its new regional champion for East and Southern Africa and receiving the Glamour Women of the Year 2022 Game Changer in Mental Health award. She’s also a published children’s book author and one of the faces of the NIVEA Radiant & Beauty body care range that celebrates melanated skin.

In our first interview two years ago, she told me one of her biggest motivations for entering Miss South Africa was to get closer to her dream of working for the United Nations (UN) as an advocate for mental health, education and economic empowerment.

Fast forward to today, and she’s living that dream. “I’m a firm believer in destiny and manifestation, and over the years, that has carried me through. Knowing that wherever I am is exactly where I’m supposed to be is such an awesome thing to learn,” she says.

“Destiny delayed isn’t destiny denied; whatever is meant for you will happen. And when something’s not going your way or how you envisioned it, things will work out in such a way that you end up where you’re supposed to.”

This is one of three important life lessons she’s learned that’s changed her worldview for the better. “The second lesson is the importance of relationships, be it friendship, romance or acquaintance. We’re relational beings, so we can’t live alone.

“I’ve isolated myself for the longest time, and the people who held me down and lifted me were my friends and family. I’ve realised the importance of family, friends and good conversations. Feeling I’m not alone has benefitted my mental health.”

Another lesson is taking time to rest when you need. “Life can be like running on a hamster wheel. I was grieving losing someone very special to me, who inspired me to do what I do, and I buried myself in work. My therapist said, ‘Shudu, you need to rest.’ I didn’t realise how important that was until my body forced me to rest, and I couldn't do anything. Rest is vital and is a fundamental part of the formula for success. So, find pockets of it when you can.”

With over 600 000 followers on Instagram and as one of the most recognised personalities in the country, how does Shudu cope with online bullying she experiences? And how does she balance rest, work and family?

“I can't deny the impact social media has had on my life, but I’ve learned to detach from it and realised not everything has to be on social media. I prioritise my social media work, but when it comes to my personal life, I don’t show all of it because it has a way of engulfing your life.

“I’ll focus on online violence and cyberbullying in my UNFPA role as these harm mental health. As someone who’s experienced cyberbullying, I've had to learn to detach from social media, even though it’s a vital part of my work.

“Living in the present with those I love is more important to me because they keep me sane and grounded.”

Being on the cover of Glamour’s body and mind issue and part of the NIVEA Body campaign that celebrates women’s bodies and different shades of melanin is a big deal for Shudufhadzo, as her journey to loving her body hasn’t been easy.

“This partnership with NIVEA means a lot to me and feels like a full-circle moment because I've been using NIVEA all my life. And to partner with the brand on a campaign for embracing your skin resonates with me.

“Growing up, people would make me feel bad about the colour of my skin; the darker your skin, the more they made you feel like you weren’t good enough or pretty enough. “Over the years, I've become so comfortable with my melanin and skin tone that I love it. Getting here has been a long journey, especially concerning my confidence and beauty.

“This partnership with NIVEA speaks to the little Shudufhadzo who felt like her skin wasn’t good enough, but also the woman I am now, who loves being in her skin and feels confident in it. I’m blessed to align with brands such as the UNFPA, NIVEA and Glamour, who represent the woman I am now and what I stand for.”

You’d think self-confidence would come easily to someone who’s won a beauty pageant, but reaching this level of self-love was a process for Shudufhadzo. “My relationship with loving my skin has been interesting because I had a love-hate relationship with my skin in my teens. Now I’m older, I’ve fallen deeply in love with it.

“Being a Black woman and living in my skin is a privilege because this is the same skin that raised me and so many incredible women I know.

Read more in GLAMOUR’s February/March ‘Mind and Body’ issue, now available online here, and in-stores from Monday 6 February.

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