“The very essence of a woman is one of love and selflessness. We are powerful and strong and should be seen as nothing less.” These are the words of Miss South Africa Top 10 finalist, Karishma Ramdev, who might not have taken the crown at the recent finale, but who had audiences rooting for her all the way.
A qualified medical doctor, working at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg, 25-year-old Karishma is originally from Chatsworth where she says her heart still lies. “I love the community I come from and the fact that my family, including my brother, grandmothers, aunts, uncles and a few cousins, are still there. We are very close and often spend weekends together whenever I have the chance to come ‘home’. It’s always a very rewarding adventure.”
In her modern, New York-style apartment – with minimalistic décor in a colour palette of black, white, brass, dark wood and grey – Karishma lives her life by one of Nelson Mandela’s more celebrated quotes: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’
As a first-year medical intern, Karishma rotates through every major specialty at the hospital, and will do so for the next two years, to get more hands-on learning before she flies solo. “I enjoy the relationships I develop with patients. It’s what brings job satisfaction at the end of the day. Being a doctor isn’t glamorous – it’s hard work that challenges us mentally, emotionally and physically. You really have to be passionate to be in this profession.”
Working on the frontline in one of the main hospitals dealing with Covid-19 has been very stressful for Karishma, although she is blessed to have had her family and friends as a strong support structure, especially through her Miss SA journey.”
Not a novice in the pageant world, Karishma previously entered Miss South Africa 2018, where she placed in the Top 5. “It was incredible, but the 2020 experience was so different. We had the coolest adventures – especially filming all the scenes for the show. I will never forget our amazing James Bond speed boat experience! I had such fun showcasing myself in that way, and it made me so proud to see myself in that light. We also developed close-knit bonds and friendships, which I will cherish for a lifetime.’
Karishma entered this year’s pageant to show not only herself, but other women, the importance of not giving up after you failed the first time. “It’s so important to get back up and try again. If you believe in yourself you’ll be a force to be reckoned with. So much is taken for granted about the role of a woman and it’s time we stand up for ourselves. The struggle isn’t over and together we need to continue changing the mind of society, and this can only happen if we are not quiet!”
While her friends, family and fans sat with bated breath during those tense final moments before they announced this year’s top five, Karishma says she wished lockdown hadn’t halted the crowd.
“There’s nothing more memorable than 7000 people screaming for you as you walk down the ramp! I missed that this year, but I’m grateful that I got to experience that in 2018, and I am by no means disappointed that my name was not called this year. I know how many opportunities come after Miss SA and I am excited for what the future holds. I realised I had a much bigger calling in my life and I am happy that my journey ended there. I am now back at work, continuing my internship so that my degree is validated and I can practice on my own.”
Had she won the title of Miss SA 2020, Karishma says she would have loved to go into communities to teach women and children the importance of health and hygiene.
When it comes to beauty, Karishma places huge importance in looking after her skin. “I think the most important thing is believing you are beautiful from the inside out. It’s easier said than done when we live in a society that strives for perfection. My skincare routine includes a daily moisturiser and face wash and I go for regular peels and micro needling. When it comes to my body I try follow a balanced diet, but also believe that we need to enjoy life. I never beat myself up when I indulge in unhealthy food and I’m a chocolate addict – so that is something I will never be able to give up!”
When she’s not working, Karishma likes to take time out at home in comfy sweats, reading, scrolling through Instagram, watching YouTube videos, a Netflix series or gymming.
“I am actually really quirky and weird. I randomly burst into weird dance moves or make funny faces, and I’ve been like that since I was young. I love art even though I’m not very good at painting, and I love making things – it calms me down and is so soothing.”
Karishma says she does not think she will enter pageants again. “I am not really a pageant girl, and entering Miss SA wasn’t only about the win for me – it was about representing my Indian community and every person who feels left out and forgotten about. It was about showing them the importance of showing up and taking that risk regardless of the outcome.”
Photographs: Casper Lodewyk Willemse, www.clwlifestyle.co.za