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By Bonginkosi Tiwane

Digital Journalist

From Benoni to New York Fashion Week: 17-year-old Mathabo Matlou has lofty ambitions

Benoni-born Mathabo Matlou returns to the US next week to take to the stage at the New York Fashion Week.

A month after winning the International Girl Pageant in the US, 17-year-old Mathabo Matlou will return to the country to participate at the New York Fashion Week.

“I’ve never gotten an opportunity to be on the runway in South Africa, it’s an honour to have access in a foreign land,” Matlou told The Citizen.

Matlou was first scouted in Mzansi to represent the country in the youth pageant. “Going there was so amazing, the whole experience was great.”

Part of the winner’s package in the International Girl Pageant is the opportunity to be part of the prestigious New York Fashion Week.

The grade 11 pupil has been competing in pageants from a tender age. “I’ve been modelling since I was eight years old. It’s something I’ve always known.”

She also has ambitions of being crowned Miss South Africa and Miss Universe one day, in tandem with her goal to become one of the greatest lawyers in the country.

Returning to the US gives her an opportunity to do things she couldn’t do on her previous visit. “I only knew it [the US] from what it looked like on TV. For me it was a reality check, it changed my perspective on things.”

“I want to explore more takeouts; I only went to one place last time, Popeyes, because it reminds me of Chicken Licken,” she said.

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Mathabo Matlou’s schooling

She is currently on school holidays and she flies out to the US on 5 September, while schools reopen two days later.  

“It was quite hard at first to balance things out, but the teachers are understanding,” says Matlou.

Together with her parents, they’ve decided to move her into an online institution which is more flexible.

“My previous school was a three-term school and I won’t be doing my third term there. I’ll start online soon and I have to catch-up with the work they’ve done,” she said.

Giving back

The Benoni-born teenager is an ambassador for the Always sanitary towels, and works with Footprints Foundation to help underprivileged schools by donating sanitary products to end period poverty in the country.

She says she’s always had a passion for helping others from a young age. “I like helping others, if something is wrong with my friends I stand up for them,” she says.

“I’ve never struggled with sanitary pads. I know what it feels like to not struggle and I want other young girls to feel that too.”

She has also been involved in projects with the Pad A Girl organisation where they managed to collect over 3 000 pads for girls.

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