How To Impress Her, With Qiniso Van Damme
Qiniso Van Damme is exuberant from the get-go. It’s the new normal and so she Skypes me – the digital ed at Men’s Health – from her apartment down the road. “Helloo!” she sings with excitement. Clearly, if this were an in-person MH shoot, the energy would be the same.
Qiniso is genuine, she’s about human connection and couldn’t be further away from those who consider themselves ‘celebrity’. Although coming off one of South Africa’s biggest shows, The Bachelor, as fan favourite to millions around the country and an alluring model, she has every right to be the latter.
“During lockdown it’s been more of a focus on mental health and exercise,” says Qiniso, who runs five to 10-kays every morning. “But can I just say shout out to M-Net and The Bachelor because they prepped us,” she jokes. “They’re like, ‘you’re staying in this mansion, you’re not going anywhere,’ they gave us a crash course.”
At 27 years old, she is wiser than most, currently doing her Masters in Anthropology at the University of Cape Town. Let’s learn from her.
“When we’re constantly chasing a yardstick and constantly trying to achieve certain goals, we forget to celebrate our successes,” she says. For the ambitious Qiniso, who is SA’s next Bachelorette, life was about chasing the next big thing. But little did she realise what she already had.
“When you’re on The Bachelor, you really have to know yourself, you have to know what your insecurities are, your triggers. It’s high-pressure, you have a huge crew of people on set all the time,” she says.
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“You don’t know the time, you don’t know the date, you’re just there for the process of really connecting with The Bachelor. I grew from the experience in so many ways. It slowed me down in terms of my life. I’m very ambitious and I’m very much a hard worker, I always feel I need to do more.
“Watching the show and getting feedback from people, I realised that I’m already so many amazing things and I need to celebrate and take heed of my successes,” she adds. “Yes I’m still working on myself and I’m trying to be a great person, but I think I’m doing pretty well so far. So shout-out to me.”
For the model and actress, having role models in her life has helped shape her powerful persona. With her sister Phumzile Van Damme the Shadow Communications Minister and a former spokesperson for the Democratic Alliance, and her mother Sibongile Masuku holding four degrees – it’s fair to say the best is in her corner.
“My sister’s my best friend and she’s rocking up parliament,” she says. “I’m not apologizing anymore in my life for the space that I take up. One of my goals in my life is to have the audacity. I just want to walk in the space and be who I am and not apologize for it.
“I’m really lucky that I have people like my sister who can say things to the president, and I have my mom who I has four degrees and commands space. I’m really lucky in having women in my life that don’t apologize for the space that they take up,” she adds.
“That comes across as confidence but I’m not trying to be confident, I’m just trying to exist in this space as best as I can. As hundred-percent me as I can be.”
Back Her, Always
To win a woman over, there’s no need for rock hard abs. So if she’s into you, don’t doubt it and give her the support she needs. “I don’t have a type,” says Qiniso. “I don’t have a standard type that I bring home to my parents.
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“It’s either very artsy or nerdy, they’re tall or short, they have corners that are snugly or they’ve got the pack of packs,” she adds. “My attraction to men is based more on who they are and basically the content of their character, not what they look like.
“It’s gotten me in trouble a little bit because yes I am a model; that’s caused friction in some of my partners, in them feeling they don’t have a place in my life or they put me on a pedestal or have insecurities.
“I need someone that’s just honest and kind and isn’t afraid of being with a woman that’s ambitious and will probably outshine you. I don’t want to dim my light when it comes to guys.”
Speak Your Heart
“I love a man who is in touch with his feelings [and] shares his day,” says Qiniso. “It’s weird because none of it is actually bodily. A turn off for me is a guy who is too much into his body and doesn’t have substance.
Pro tip: read up. A way to winning Qiniso over is by being informed on the world around you. ”When a man is out here talking about the world, the economy, intelligent chat – I’m like wow!,” she laughs.
Qiniso says men should embrace their bodies. “I’ve dated two guys with a beer boep and they have other beautiful features, like their eyes or jawline. You are attractive in multiple kinds of ways, it doesn’t matter what you’re packing.”
Big dates don’t need to cost half your salary. Rather put some thought into it, but be careful not to always overthink, too. “I’m very much an outdoorsy kind of person, but not in your typical Newlands Forest and smoothies, Cape Town kind of way,” she says.
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“I like to go on drives, see the flowers bloom in spring. I also love dressing up and going to restaurants with six-course meals. And I’m really spontaneous, so I love being surprised!”
Qiniso is all about getting out and having fun. “A surprise date, a blanket fort or something just sweet and thoughtful that’s not inside the house. Like skiing in the Ceres mountains in the snow, going ice skating. If there’s a new market somewhere, let’s go and explore that. I hate being cooped up inside, so lockdown’s been so hard for me.”