Ashma KC, the first runner-up of Miss Universe Nepal 2022 is also the winner of the WOW Free and Fearless title during the pageant. She works with two organisations in South Australia that work with people with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues even as she begins to pursue her Master’s degree in Social Work at the Flinders University. Ashma fostered the dream of participating in a national pageant as a ten-year-old. Here is someone who is not afraid to chase her dreams. Anushka Shrestha of WOW catches up with this edition’s Cover Girl. Excerpts:
What were you like as a child?
I was very cheeky and adventurous and would look for every opportunity to get into mischief along with my brother. I liked playing video games, had mostly male friends, and was more of a tomboy. I was academically good too, very studious and hardworking from a young age. I never gave a hard time to my parents and have always been compassionate and empathetic toward the disadvantaged.
Did you always want to take part in a pageant?
Yes. I think I was barely 10 years old when I watched my first Miss Nepal competition, and when I saw the crown, I wanted to be a Miss Nepal someday. My mother laughed and was amazed. I wasn’t aware about what the journey would look like or what qualities one would have to have, but I held that dream since a very young age.
Growing up, what was your definition of beauty?
I’ll have to be honest. As a young girl and considering being under the unavoidable influence of society, I always thought beauty was all about how someone looks and how good their hair is, how fair the skin is and the body structure. At times, I felt insecure because I didn’t look like that image at all, thanks to my short hair, chubby cheeks and boyish rompers I wore. I also remember wanting to look like my friends who looked more feminine, had long hair, and dressed up. But over a period of time, that definition changed. My mother has helped me consistently by showing me what beauty looks like and now I see beauty in everything especially a person’s mindset, their heart, their ability to create an impact. It was a long journey to understanding this.
Now that you are back in Australia, what will you miss the most about Nepal?
I think I miss everything about Nepal. My family, friends, food and places I like visiting. I will also miss my pageant journey and my gallery is full of pictures of those three months that I spent in Nepal. Anytime I feel like I wish I could go home, I pull out the pictures and look back at the memories. Sometimes I think of getting a one-way ticket back home, for good.
What do you love the most about yourself?
I am in absolute awe of my own existence (laughs). That’s a bit of a self-obsession that I have. I like how transparent I am. People believe in not revealing too much about themselves but it’s the other way around for me. I think my transparency is something people know me for. I deliver on my honesty, respect and concern for others. No hidden agendas.
What makes you different from your contemporaries?
I think everyone is different in their own way… the way they think, the way they see the world, and obviously in our physical features too. I wouldn’t say I am different but if there is something that would set me apart, it is that I am compassionate, honest and never give up. I am someone who sees more of good in people and finds a way to learn from everyone I come across.
The most free and fearless thing you have done lately?
Recently, I would say the idea of putting my career and life in Australia on hold and giving myself a chance to participate in a pageant like Miss Universe Nepal. I was swarmed by discouragement and doubt from people around me but I knew what I was capable of and I had to filter out everyone’s perception and only soak in the positivity and continue ahead with my loved ones’ support.
What are you busy with?
I am currently busy with my job here in Adelaide. I work as a youth worker for two of the biggest organisations here in South Australia that look after people with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues. I am also preparing for my Master’s in Social Work for 2023 February intake at the Flinders University.
Makeup and hair: Shreeja Shrestha/ Sunita Waiba Tamang, The Zaya Studio (shrezastha, sunita_waiba_tamamg, thezayastudio)
Wardrobe: Nuzhat Qazi (nuzhatqaziofficial)
Accessories: ANX Studio (anx_studio)
Text, styling and coordination: Anushka Shrestha
Videographer: Krish Sthapit (krish_sthapit)
Location: Aspire Digital (aspiredigital_)