The theme for this year’s SA Lingerie Fashion show celebrates and acknowledges ‘Warrior Women’. And, while it may be taking place on 1st October heralding the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month, the show actually pays homage to all women (and men) who have faced challenges and overcome them, with grace and fortitude.
One such young lady who has an abundance of grace, beauty and brains, is 19-year-old Jessica Malekhisi, the winner of the SA Lingerie Cover Girl competition and who will lead the models down the ramp at Canal Walk Shopping Centre on 1st October.
Jessica, hales from rural Rustenburg, by way of Daveyton, Johannesburg, and ahead of her trip to Cape Town for the SA Lingerie Fashion Show at Canal Walk Shopping Centre, we took some time to get to know her:
How old were you when you were first scouted? I was 17 when I was scouted, around the same time as I was completing matric.
How did your parents react to the news you were being asked to model? I am not sure they were thrilled about the prospects of me completing school and taking sometime of my future studies to become a model. But I knew that at 17 I couldn’t possibly know what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life, so I took a gap year, went travelling and embarked on my modelling. I did this as I needed to explore life and myself and I highly recommend that young people take a year after school to discover themselves.
Too many young people end up making disastrous career decisions because they are not equipped with the right knowledge or life experience to make informed choices about their future, or they end up studying something just to please their family.
Now that you are 19 and have had your gap year, have you made any plans for the future? In the two years since leaving school, I have had an amazing time and been exposed to so much. I feel I am now better informed to make better choices as far as my working career goes. I remember when I was just starting out in High School I had wanted to be a fashion designer but was told by the career guidance counsellor that I was too bright to be wasted on a life in fashion, so I studied physics and science instead.
However, instead of now becoming a surgeon, I am studying through UNISA to become a psychologist. At the same time, I am completing courses in fashion buying and merchandising. I now get to combine the best of both worlds and have fun modelling too, which helps pay for my tuition.
What is your advice to young people on the subject of school and career choices? Work hard at school to have the right grades to make the right choices about YOUR future. Try not to let other people influence your decisions too much. Listen and heed their advice, it is usually meant well, but it is your life and if you are living someone else’s dream, you might find it difficult to find that elusive happiness and success we all strive for.
Back to the SA Lingerie Fashion Show and your cover shoot – what are your thoughts on the ‘Warrior Women’ theme? Firstly, I identify completely with this theme. While I may not have cancer, or be ill, I am nevertheless a warrior woman. My mother was diagnosed with cancer at the end of my junior school and sadly passed away when I was in Grade 11. She was a warrior woman to her core and when I walk that ramp on the 1st of October, I will be doing it as much for her as I am for all women, including myself.
In addition to that, I continue to fight to achieve my dreams and goals, finding the time and balance for studying, modelling and play. I also overcome prejudices, especially when I tell people I am a model and who then instantly leap to the conclusion that I have little brainpower.
Positioning lingerie and warrior women in one, sends a very strong message to men and women alike – just because we wear beautiful and sometimes skimpy under garments, does not mean we should be taken lightly, dismissed or undervalued as human beings.