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‘Miss Namibia and Teen have a hard nut to crack, when it comes to other pageants’ – Umbi Karuaihe-Upi

Miss Namibia organisation chief executive officer Umbi Karuaihe-Upi said the Miss Namibia and Miss Teen Namibia pageants are in need of a few changes.

Karuaihe-Upi was reflecting on her experience after attending the biggest and longest-running beauty pageant for young girls, Miss Teen International, held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, recently.

Namibia was represented by Miss Teen Namibia 2022 Zöe Karsten, who made it into the top 15.

Karuaihe-Upi said the trip was worthwhile and she learned a lot in terms of different perspectives.

“What we might find as beautiful from the African perspective differs from other perspectives. We do have a hard nut to crack. First, I have to reiterate the financial impact is immense and we need more sponsors to assist the organisation, as well as the parents of the title holders. Secondly, it gives an international platform to promote and showcase Namibia as a great respected brand. Also, when it comes to Miss Teen Namibia, we are way too conservative. Here bikinis are the ‘in’ thing and us, we only put them in active wear,” she said.

Karuaihe-Upi said venturing outside Namibia has shown her that international pageants are big.

“The level of pageants here signifies performance, not just being a boring walker. You must act your performance. They emphasise the importance of ramp walking, while we concentrate more on intelligence and advocacy. All of these are, however, my own interpretations as I perceive it,” she said.

Actress, model and pageant coach Andeline Wieland, who also attended the pageant, said all Karsten’s clothing, besides the national costume, were second-hand. She was the sole stylist and creative director for the international trip.

“We didn’t buy anything new. The aim was to show that sustainable fashion is important, because we have a massive wastage problem currently in society. The outfits were up-styled. All the outfits were slightly changed or upgraded,” Wieland said.

The national costume, highlighting quartz crystal cluster, was made from scratch, said Wieland

Titled ‘Queen of Quartz’, the costume was designed and created by Wieland and Threadline Studio.

“We felt it was needed to showcase crystals because it represents a side of our country that not many people are aware of. It was important for me to create a piece that’s striking. I felt this costume was age-appropriate for a teenager, and I knew the colours would pop on stage,” Wieland said.