From glamour model to beauty queen; our reigning Miss SA carries herself with all the grace befitting a princess, but knows how to have fun with the boys too

Although you’re not allowed to actually date a beauty queen – because it’s against pageant rules – we like to think that when a girl is crowned Miss “something”, the men of that country should claim it. Like if you’re single, you should feel like she is your girlfriend, and defend her honour and stuff; because for the year of her reign, she is a national treasure. Or think about it like this: when she’s talking about world peace and visiting orphans, she’s doing it on behalf of you. Which kinda makes her your better half.

Here’s what Melinda has to say about gift-giving, dating and beach fashion

What’s the best gift a guy has ever given you?

“A unique crystal necklace that I had been drooling over for eight months… There are only five in Africa, and he tracked one down for my birthday. It was the perfect combination of getting me something that I loved, but putting thought and effort into it by managing to get the exact one!”

What’s the best thing a guy can wear to the beach to get noticed (in a good way)?

“Confidence and a hot tan (not an Umpa-Lumpa tan, though). But remember you’re on the beach, it’s not a fashion show. Girls don’t want to look at someone who’s going to stare at his own reflection in our sunglasses… but we also don’t want a caveman. Take care of yourself and be a blast… We’re looking for confidence.”

You’re tanning on the beach and we want to chat… what should our approach be?

“Definitely don’t to ask to oil me up (I’ve had some weird introductions from some creepy guys). Offer me something or ask if I’d want to join you in a game of volleyball or bats and balls. Bring over an ice cream – anything to get a normal conversation going ¬– without just sitting down next to me. Once you get a girl to do something with you, the battle is half won. And then she’ll be more conscious to try and impress you with her volley ball skills, which kind of takes the pressure off you a bit.”

What do women want in a boyfriend?

“Someone who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. A great boyfriend has to adore the little details and things you do that makes you unique. He should be someone who complements my personality and doesn’t expect me to change. I look for someone who I can do things with and who has a common interest: like golf, running and diving. A sense of humour is also important, and you have to be good company. Being grounded and driven is doesn’t hurt either.”

On first impression, can a great personality trump an athletic body?

“Yes. I don’t think either one takes preference. I think it’s more about an energy. I love it when someone takes good care of themselves, but personality carries the most weight. If someone has confidence and a positive energy, it’s immediately felt by the opposite sex.”

Is taking a guy home the indication that you’re a long-term relationship?

“It’s the final determining factor; kinda. So you’ve clicked with the girl, met the friends, spent some time together… Now, the final yay or nay. The parents’ opinion definitely counts. If the girl values her family’s opinion, chances are they’ll influence a bit. If the she’s a rebel, she’ll do the opposite of what her parents want. Either way, it plays a role. Just the fact that she’s taking you says a lot. But breathe, it isn’t a proposal, it just means she genuinely likes you.”

You’re taking us home to meet your folks, how do we behave?

“Like a well brought up guy, who isn’t trying too hard. Offer to bring something, help with the braai and say please and thank you. It’s not rocket science trying to impress the parents: be well-mannered and make sure their daughter looks every bit in love and cherished by you. Treat her well, and her parents will love you.”

Should we save the engagement proposal for the holiday season?

“No, I wouldn’t want to celebrate my special day along with the rest of my friends and family; the celebration will fade in the hype. Choose a day of significance to both of you.”