Nadja Breytenbach is a Namibian model and beauty pageant title holder who was crowned the title of Miss Namibia 2019. She represented Namibia during Miss Universe 2019. Being a beauty queen can be the dream of every lady and Nadja couldn’t contain her excitement at being Namibia’s beauty queen. In an Interview with A-CHOICES Magazine, Nadja spoke positively on her achievements during her reign as Miss Namibia. Born and bred in Windhoek, the beauty queen said: “The purpose of pageantry is to promote community service and I have always been someone who enjoys helping others, and to put others before me”. That is why I have always been so fascinated by pageantry since I was a young girl.”
A-CHOICES: Hi, Nadja can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your educational background?
NADJA:I am a born and bred Windhoeker. I had a very difficult childhood marked by my father’s passing when I was only 9 years old. Growing up in a single-parent household was not easy but it shaped me into the woman I am today. I learned from a very young age that we cannot control outside circumstances. However, we can control our minds, the way we think, and the way we decide to perceive hardships. I went to Delta Primary School and then moved on to Delta Secondary School Windhoek. I hold a Higher Certificate in Interior Decorating at the BHC School of Design in Cape Town and then went on to follow my passion for psychology, and did my Honours in Psychology at the South African College of Applied Psychology, also situated in Cape Town. I recently finished my internship at a mental health hospital in Windhoek, and am now preparing to write my examinations to finally register as a Psychological Counsellor.
A-CHOICES: Previous beauty competitions?
NADJA: I competed at Miss Teen Namibia in 2013, where I placed the second runner up.
A-CHOICES: Why did you enter the competition? How does it feel to be crowned Miss Namibia?
NADJA: The purpose of pageantry is to promote community service and I have always been someone who enjoys helping others, and to put others before me. That is why I have always been so fascinated by pageantry since I was a young girl. Michelle McLean came to my school when I was in grade 1 and her poise, elegance, and confidence left me so awe-inspired that since then, I have always wanted to enter a pageant. As much as being a Miss Namibia is an honour, it is also a very big responsibility that lasts beyond my year of reign. Miss Namibia stands for beauty with a charitable cause, and that is exactly what I do and stand for.
A-CHOICES: What do you think set you apart from the other contestants?
NADJA: I believe that a big contribution to my success in this beauty pageant was, that I stayed true to myself. I never tried to be someone I am not. I worked extremely hard to prepare myself for the pageant. I started preparing at the beginning of 2018 and intensified my preparation together with a coach beginning of 2019. My preparation helped me to understand what to expect and what would be expected from me.
A-CHOICES: What qualities do you believe a Miss Namibia should possess?
NADJA: Miss Namibia should have confidence in herself, down to heart, she should be humble and have compassion for the people around her, and most importantly, she needs to have a big heart for charitable causes.
A-CHOICES: Were there any projects that you worked on during your reign, Any community service activities, or other business ventures?
NADJA Due to the pandemic many of the projects I hoped to do, were put on a halt. One that I did put into action was before Christmas last year, where I dropped off some food donations at Hope Village together with Michelle McLean Bailey and our lovely Miss Teen Namibia 2019. It was amazing to spend some time with the children and to listen to their dreams and goals for their future.
A-CHOICES: What has been a challenge you’ve experienced in life, and how did you overcome it?
NADJA: I think the biggest challenge I had to face in my life thus far, was my mindset. It all starts with our thoughts (what we think about situations etc., but most importantly how we think of ourselves). Studying psychology has helped me tremendously to challenge myself. Journaling, reading, and surrounding myself with amazing people have helped me to grow as a person as well.
A-CHOICES: How did you handle the lockdown due to the Covid 19?
NADJA: I have always been a very positive person, so that is what I am focusing on in difficult times like these. What also helps me a lot is to know that I am not alone. We are all going through this together.
A-CHOICES: What has this time taught you?
NADJA: 2020 taught me many lessons. Health is not a given and it should never be taken for granted, and happiness is self-created. “You should never look for happiness outside of yourself, but seek happiness within yourself.”
A-CHOICES: What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
NADJA: I think many people will be quite surprised to know that I am a very big introvert.
A-CHOICES:2020 has been a tough year globally. Do you see any positives in 2021?
NADJA: 2020 has taught us so many lessons that we can implement in this new year, and for me, lessons are one of the greatest gifts we can receive.
A-CHOICES: What do you love about Namibia? What would like to change about Namibia?
NADJA: Namibia’s landscapes and wildlife are incredible. We are so blessed to live in a country that so many only dreams to see one day. One thing that I would like to see a change in is that Namibian’s support and stand together more.
A-CHOICES: What do you do in your spare time?
NADJA: I enjoy doing any type of exercise, especially Pilates. I also continue educating myself in the psychology profession and otherwise, I spend my time with my family, friends, and with my dog Benji.
A-CHOICES: What music are you listening to? Your favourite TV shows? Your favourite meal?
NADJA: I do not have a specific genre that I listen to but rather like a variety, it all depends on my mood and situations. As I am half German, I enjoy German pop and rap, but I also love listening to lo-fi, chill trap, alternative pop and rock, and the list continues. My favourite TV show definitely is Downton Abbey and I absolutely love sushi.
A-CHOICES: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?
NADJA: I would tell myself to not take everything so seriously and to let go of things that I cannot control.
A-CHOICES: What do you think is the biggest problem facing young people today?
NADJA: Due to my profession I see how so many young people are battling with their mental health. This is definitely influenced by social media and COVID-19. What we can do as a society is to show our youth that they are being taken seriously and to teach them healthy coping skills. As a country the biggest problem that we are still facing is the stigma related to mental health, which can only be broken once we start speaking about it.
A-CHOICES: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
NADJA: One thing that winning the Miss Namibia 2019 title has taught me is, that life is unpredictable. So, my plans are not set in stone. I would, however, like to have my own psychological practice and work with teenagers and young adults. I would also like to work on starting an interior business as a side hustle and hopefully have traveled to a few countries by then.
A-CHOICES: For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
NADJA: At the moment, I am most grateful for my health and that my family and friends are healthy.
A-CHOICES: How does domestic violence affect a woman?
NADJA: This question should deserve a couple of paragraphs, but here are just a few pointers. Violence against women can cause long-term physical and mental health problems. Violence and abuse affect not just the women involved but also their children, families, and communities. These effects include harm to an individual’s health, possibly long-term harm to children, and harm to communities such as lost work and homelessness. One important point I need to make is that men can also be victims of domestic violence and should not be forgotten.
A-CHOICES: Final question, is there anything you’d like to see change regarding beauty standards in Namibia?
NADJA: Over the last couple of years, we have seen drastic changes regarding beauty standards in the pageantry world. Miss Germany 2019 for example, is a born Namibian woman, 30 years of age with a child. Another great example Are Zozibini Tunzi (Miss Universe 2019), and Shudufhadzo Musida (Miss South Africa 2020) who have broken the “norms” of pageantry all over the world.
Author: Gbenga Teejay Okunlola