Namibia
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Zoë Karsten – A Miss Teen Namibia Won’t Forget

Miss Teen Namibia 2022 and fashion model Zoë Karsten says although her year has been emotional, it was important for her to constantly refresh with other perspectives to make positive growth possible.

Last year, Karsten emerged the winner of Miss Teen Namibia, beating 20 other contestants.

Karsten has been modelling – focusing on commercial and photographic modelling since the age of 12. Other pageants Karsten has participated in are Miss Biltongfees and Miss Windhoek Afrikaanse Privaatskool. Miss Teen Namibia was the first big pageant she won.

She says winning the Miss Teen Namibia crown has taken her out of her comfort zone and has seen her push her boundaries.

Karsten represented Namibia at Miss Teen International held in Cambodia this month, where she made it into the top 15. The finale was held on 22 June in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Also in the top 15 were South Africa’s Washu Masindi Hlabioa and Botswana’s Rosa Osenotse.

Miss Teen Venezuela, Bárbara Parraga, scooped the crown. The 18-year-old old model from Guárico beat 20 other competitors to win the international title. She also bagged the best body and best in swimsuit awards.

Mannat Siwach of India was named first runner-up, with Nidanath Sok of Cambodia, Itamar Salcedo of the Dominican Republic and Bui Vu Xuan Nghi of Vietnam the second, third and fourth runners-up, respectively.

Rounding out the top 8 finalists were Floortje Timmer of The Netherlands, Angel Jed Latorre of the Philippines, and Chanoknan Rochanasmith of Thailand.

The goal of the Miss Teen International competition is to promote today’s teens aged 13 to 18 and their accomplishments.

“I feel very proud about my placing in the top 15. I’m so proud that three of the representatives from the Africa continent were placed in the top 15. This indicates that we never have to stand back for the rest of the world,” Karsten says.

This was Karsten’s first international trip. She says it was an overflowing cup of emotions for her.

“As I left Namibia to participate in Cambodia, I was filled with various emotions. I was proud, honoured, overwhelmed and excited.

“I felt honoured and humbled by the opportunity to represent my country. It was an exiting thought that I will be able to meet pageant contestants from all over the world and compare how we in Namibia differ in thought and approach to the rest of the world,” she says.

Karsten says participating in an international contest has taught her to appreciate who she is and where she comes from.

“In Namibia, we place emphasis on a social cause and advocacy, wardrobe and styling, and being intelligent with having a strong voice on world issues. However, I have found in Cambodia that at the pageant this did not weigh that much. Your performance on stage counted much more and intellect and advocacy was not of huge importance. I have found the experience of an international pageant very interesting. To the Asian countries and Latina countries, pageants are their lives. They have huge social media following and financial support,” she says.

Karsten rcalls that apart from working hard at the international contest, she was also focused on meeting and interacting with other cultures.

She says her preparation process was different to what she was used to. She admits that pageantry is very different from photographic modelling, especially that it has a more personal approach.

“I prepared through working on public speaking skills, to be able to best perform in interviews and answer judges’ questions. I read daily newspapers and stayed tuned in to local and international news. As ramp work is a part of pageantry, I did coaching in walking with swimwear and evening wear on and off stage. I also did a short course in make-up application, as I was not sure how self-sufficient I would have to be in Cambodia. When I went for Miss Teen International I was very well prepared and did all that I thought was necessary to approach the challenge positively,” she says.

Karsten will be handing over the Miss Teen Namibia crown to her successor on 7 July.

She says although she will not be performing official duties as Miss Teen Namibia, she will continue as a youth influencer and advocate for more blood donations in Namibia.

She remarks that it was important for her to show the youth that it is easy and free to donate blood, and make a difference.

“When I turned 16, my mother encouraged me to join her as a blood donor. I have always been interested in science and how the human body works, so I understood blood types. Being part of the O blood type, I also realised the importance of donating blood. When I entered Miss Teen, I had already donated blood for a year. And during that time, I realised that few youths donate blood. In fact, I learnt that only 1% of Namibians donate blood. I decided to make blood donations my focus for the year of my reign,” she says.

Karsten says she is eager to share her experiences and lessons with the new Miss Teen Namibia, as she too was inspired by previous title-holders.

“As a model, I had the opportunity to share photoshoots with former Miss Teen Namibia winners Nicole Landsberg and Chanique Rabe, former Miss Namibia winners Lizelle Esterhuizen and Nadja Breytenbach, including other pageant winners such as Andeline Wieland, and realised that being a title-holder gives credibility to the shoots and gets you invited to shoots,” she says.

According to her, she realised that entering Miss Teen Namibia would be a stepping stone to further her modelling career.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

Some of Karsten’s memorable moments were being part of the Cancer Association of Namibia’s cancer month and being a guest at their yearly hats and roses events in Windhoek and at Swakopmund, walking on the Windhoek Fashion Week stage for the Snow White Project, doing a photoshoot at the Sandhoff lilies, meeting president Hage Geingob, hosting a successful blood donation drive at her school in Windhoek and receiving an award from the Blood Transfusion Service of Namibia in recognition of her contributions.