Women Unlocked: Karishma Ramdev's road to Miss SA 2020

Women Unlocked: Karishma Ramdev's road to Miss SA 2020

Chatsworth beauty Karishma Ramdev has a one in ten chance of winning the Miss SA pageant. It isn't exactly a home run, but they are pretty decent odds. 

Miss SA Karishma Ramdev
Karishma Ramdev / Instagram

KwaZulu-Natal's hopes of winning the 2020 Miss South Africa title rest on the shoulders of a medical doctor who has the beauty and brains to match. 

Karishma Ramdev is the province's only Top 10 finalist

The 25-year-old remembers the exact moment she received the news that she made the cut. 

"We were each allocated a slot to log on to Zoom with the Miss SA [organization] and I kept pacing around the apartment telling myself, 'What is meant for you will come to you'," she recalls. 

Karishma's heart skipped a beat when Stephanie Weil, the pageant's CEO, explained that she was happy that she at least had a job she could go back to. 

"Then she said, 'Unfortunately your journey as a semi-finalist has ended….. but your journey as a finalist begins today'. I was disappointed hearing the first sentence and then confused. All of a sudden I understood what had happened and was so excited. This wave of relief came over me and I couldn’t stop crying. I had to continue my conversation with them through my tears of joy!" 

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“She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future” - Proverbs 31:25 South Africa I am so excited to announce that I am part of your Miss South Africa 2020 Top 10! This has been the most amazing experience of my life and I can’t wait for what’s to come! I want you all to SEE ME for who I am. Thank you for all the support that EACH of you have given me up to this point, it doesn’t go unnoticed. I love you all! Feeling grateful and blessed 😍👑. Love and Light❤️. @official_misssa Photographer: @garrethbarclayphoto Dress: @topdrawer_collection Hair: @veaudryint - @rene_ultimateglamour Extensions: @strands_of_love_hair Make-Up: @artistry_by_dyllan #misssa2020 #karishmaformisssa

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This may come as a surprise to some, but Karishma only entered her first beauty pageant in her twenties. 

"I was never a pageant girl or a model. My mother kept me away from that world. I entered Miss Tuks Varsity Cup at 21 years old and had no idea what I was doing. I entered to represent my University residence, Curlitzia. I just had fun and enjoyed every moment that was given to us and I was shocked when they named me as the winner," she tells us.

Winning that pageant changed her life, and Karishma was soon scouted by a modelling agency. The Durban beauty moved to Gauteng after high school to pursue her studies, but Chatsworth will always be home to her. 

"I grew up in the same house for 18 years of my life. I can remember as kids, three of us would stand in a line and my dad would be on the other side of the room and we all got a turn to run to him and he would lift us up in the air one by one and when it was done we would join the queue again! 

"I also remember vividly hopping over the wall to go and hang out with my neighbours. We were so carefree back then. I was a weirdo though and would get excited if I found frogs or grasshoppers because that meant I’d get to play with them. Now I am completely terrified of them!" the former Durban Girls' High School pupil says. 

Karishma spends most of her time in Johannesburg after graduating with her MBChB from the University of Pretoria last year. 

She currently works at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, where she helps deliver babies.

But Durban will always be home. She says she misses her family and dogs the most. 

"They’re at the centre of my being and it’s so hard not being able to visit them during the lockdown. Whenever I am there, you will find me and my German Shepherd running along the promenade and eating breakfast at our favourite hang out spot Circus Circus (they allow dogs)." 

Her mother might live miles away, but she remains one of Karishma's biggest inspirations.

"She is a magnificent woman! When we were little, she gave up her career to look after my brothers and I, making sure that we were doing the best we could at school, making sure we went for every single sport practice and match we had to. She would take us for all our extra classes in high school as well. 

"Things got very tough for my dad financially in my second year of varsity and so she went back to work so that we never had to take out student loans. I love her so much and everyone who meets us always calls me a 'mini Komla'," she says.

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Wathint'Abafazi Wathint'imbokodo! - You strike a woman, you strike a rock! Women have always been treated as less than equal and still we push back. My grandmother worked as a seamstress in a factory for most of her life to put food on the table for her four children. And yet she did so with a smile on her face My mother got her diploma in radiography because that was one of the only jobs the government was subsidising and she couldn’t afford to pay for her own studies. She worked so hard for my brothers and I and took time off work to ensure we had amazing opportunities. When my dad needed help paying for our Uni fees, she went back to work and helped him with a smile on her face. I’m standing here today as a qualified doctor following my dreams and passions with a smile on my face because of these incredible women who came before me. I’m a generation younger with more opportunities. Happy Women’s Day! #womensday #9August #generation #opportunities

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There are nine other equally beautiful and intelligent women vying for the Miss SA crown, but Karishma believes she has what it takes to go all the way. 

"I am the only one who is doing this pageant for the second time in our group and that gives me the edge in understanding what is expected of us and not allowing the minor things to frighten or intimidate me in any way. That being said, it is more difficult doing it a second time as everyone wants to see what I am doing differently and how I have grown from my 2018 self."

ALSO READ: Miss SA Sasha-Lee Olivier slams 'disappointing' body-shaming article

Beauty pageants have evolved over the past decade to become less about who is the prettiest and more about what each woman has to offer. 

Karishma says it was a shift the pageant world needed to make. 

"This was so important because the societal definition of beauty wasn’t acceptable. Beauty is NOT only skin deep. It comes from within. When you are truly beautiful in your heart, it shows on the outside. Furthermore, women being defined by their looks is archaic. We are powerful and strong beings with so much to offer the world! It’s time we realise that and harness our power," she says. 

The former Glenwood Preparatory School learner has an important message for women who don’t think they are good enough, smart enough or beautiful enough to be something in a world full of beauty filters. 

"I have been there. I have looked in the mirror and thought that I’m unworthy and that I am less than. So my message to every single woman who thinks the way I used to is that THAT STOPS TODAY. Turn your insecurities into your strengths. If you feel like you dislike your body, choose yourself and eat healthy, exercise, make little changes to your daily life that will improve your mental and physical health. 

"Start writing down your strengths and weaknesses and work on both. Truly become intuitive about yourself because it is only when you know who you are, will you be confident and strong enough to never allow yourself or anyone else to break you down ever again."

KwaZulu-Natal is crossing fingers that Karishma brings home the title on Saturday, October 24.  She is an early favourite, with some already predicting she could make it to the Top 2.

If she does, she will get to represent South Africa at the Miss World or Miss Universe pageant. 

Regardless of where she places in the pageant, Karishma is already a winner in KZN's eyes!

Follow her Miss SA journey on Instagram, and experience everything with her.

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