As Women’s Month draws to a close we celebrate a woman who is single-handedly changing the way South African women are viewing their bodies. Former Miss South Africa Finalist, Marciel Hopkins is every bit as beautiful as any catwalk model yet has often found herself on the receiving end of the wrath of an industry forcing unrealistic ideologies regarding health and fitness on us. As women, we urgently and unequivocally need to start being kinder to ourselves, and each other. Body-shaming is just bullying masquerading with a fancier title. We are all uniquely beautiful and powerful beyond measure and by standing together we can change the world’s perception on body-beautiful.
I had the honour of chatting to Marciel recently about matters very close to my own heart as well. I have never been a size 6 nor will I ever be and after chatting to this lovely lady I have once again realised that it is okay to be comfortable in your own skin, just the way you are!
Walking through your run-of-the-mill shopping mall we are often faced with bone-thin mannequins displaying designer clothes. Upon entering selected high-end clothing stores you will find that many clothing items are only available up to a size 12 or 14 if you are lucky. What do you think it is going to take for the fashion industry to change their perception of the ‘ideal female body’?
I think more women need to stand together in terms of demanding more body diversity and inclusivity in fashion and clothing brands. We are an informed and empowered generation that is able to drive a momentum of change in the way the female body is viewed and objectified. I am excited to see what the future holds in terms of normalising body diversity in the fashion industry.
Do you think the beauty pageant circuit will ever evolve to the extent where a size 14 contestant CAN win the title and crown or is that merely a far-off dream for many girls who don’t conform to society’s idea of what a beauty queen should look like?
I think we are still a few years away from normalising body diversity in the pageant industry, but I really hope and wish to get there soon. There are unfortunately very strict expectations and regulations that women need to live up to, to qualify as beauty queens/finalists. My wish for beauty pageants is to start focusing on the depth of character instead of the size of a bum.
You have become a role model to countless women of all ages. Did you ever think you would be the reason so many of us have come to terms with our bodies? How does it feel to be held in such high regard by so many women?
No, I was so insecure for picking up weight after Miss South Africa! I thought that people who looked up to me would judge me for becoming lazy and demotivating people to live a healthy life style. I never thought people would respond so positively to my story. I have actually been overwhelmed by the response at times. I remember a post going viral in January this year and various South African publications phoned within an hour for live interviews. I never thought my story would be so powerful and a massive source of inspiration to others. I am also aware of the big responsibility that I have towards all of my followers and the young girls that look up to me. It is my mission to spread the message of self-love and body acceptance.
Self-love is so important yet it is not reiterated enough when it comes to little girls who are still easily manipulated by what they see on TV and in magazines. What advice would you give to a group of 10-year old girls who all want to be models when they grow up?
Be very careful with what you feed your mind with. Who are the role models you are looking up to? Who are you following on Instagram/social media platforms? It is a big determining factor in terms of how you look at yourself. Be sure to follow role models that portray positive and realistic body images. If you are constantly looking at Victoria Secret Angels, you will never feel good enough. There will unfortunately always be someone smarter, skinnier and prettier than you. That’s why it’s so important to focus on self-love and body acceptance because you’ll realise how important it is to focus on your own mental and physical health, rather than comparing yourself to others.
You might be a size 14 but you are a beautifully toned size 14. Care to share some of your workout secrets with our readers?
I gym 3 to 4 times a week and I do exercise that I love! Exercise should never feel like punishment for what you ate because it’s a celebration of what your body can do. I do spin, shape and box classes to stay toned, but I strongly believe that every individual should find an exercise that works for them. I really don’t like jogging, so I don’t jog. I found other options that work for my mental and physical health.
What is next for Marciel? Any exciting projects on the horizon?
We are working on a TV program that I will be presenting next year and I am soooo excited about it. I have a BA drama degree, so I want to use this hidden talent of mine. I will also start coaching full time from October this year, so I can’t wait to be part of the transformational process of people’s lives. My model dream is to sign with an agency in New York and I am working very hard to make this dream a reality.
Author: Justine Bishop
Untamed, outspoken and just a little bit crazy.