Miss Nepal 2016, Asmi Shrestha had always dreamed of participating in Miss Nepal and winning the crown since she was a little kid. And this girl who never gave up on her dreams has now certainly had all her wildest dreams come true.  Her world was turned upside down when she heard the words “And Miss Nepal World 2016 is …” uttered on the night of 8th April 2016.  

These are the very same words that have changed the lives of 20 beautiful Nepali women so far. And this year too, the legacy of Miss Nepal continues as yet another beautiful and talented young woman was crowned the most beautiful woman in Nepal. 

A model for more than six years, Asmi Shrestha was already quite well known even before she was crowned Miss Nepal. She started her modeling career with a cover shoot for Living, and considers modeling to be only a bridge to her ultimate goal of becoming Miss Nepal.

“I was always the kind of person who likes to inspire other people. That feeling when I have inspired someone – that always inspires me to do more. I think this platform helps me fulfill that desire and gain that inner satisfaction. Since Miss Nepal is one of the most powerful platforms for youth like us, I feel it will help me reach a lot of people,” says Asmi. She feels this might be the reason why she was always fascinated by the Miss Nepal beauty pageant. 

When asked if she was confident of winning during the contest she exclaims “NO!! No way!” “What happens is, you go through different phases throughout the competition, at least I did. When you first enter, you are full of confidence and determination to win. But once you start realizing that it’s not easy, that you have to give your all, you start to feel hopeless - like you won’t win. And then, you start realizing that you are learning a lot, and it’s doing you good; you start to feel like you’ll be okay whether you win or you lose because you now know who you are and can now take control of your own life. It is only in the last phases that you’ll again really want to win. Since you’ve already worked so hard, why not the crown?”

After going through all these phases, having her name announced as Miss Nepal 2016 was a life changing moment for Asmi: “At the end, during the top five, I was telling myself that it’s okay whether I win or lose because I had already given my best. I remember standing there with Srijana and Namrata. Srijana and I both knew how much we both wanted that crown, but there was only one spot. Then my name was called out, and I felt so calm. I was in my own zone. This was something that I had wanted all my life and it had finally happened. So you can imagine how I felt at that moment.”  

 To be a Miss Nepal, you have to be determined, focused and confident. You have to believe in yourself. But, according to Asmi Shrestha, there is more to it: “It’s a lot of little things like kindness and gratitude that make a real difference. At the same time, if you want to win, you have to be prepared to lose as well. This is something I have learnt as of late. If you think about winning too much, something just goes wrong, that’s what I have realized. “

Asmi’s life has changed a lot since she participated in the Miss Nepal pageant. She has felt a tremendous transformation within herself during these six weeks. “I was never a very outspoken person. I didn’t quite know how to express myself well. But throughout the six weeks training for Miss Nepal, I found myself becoming more confident. I was always pushing myself, opening up and speaking up,” says Asmi. 

 “It was a lot of little things. It taught me the value of gratitude and humility and kindness. All in all, I would say Miss Nepal not only taught me to be the perfect beauty queen, it taught me to be a better person,” she adds. 

 “Before Miss Nepal, there were a few people within the modeling industry and some young girls who knew me. But now, it’s not just the younger generation that recognizes me. Even people my parent’s age have seen me on television and read my interviews. Having them admire me really gives me a good feeling.“

This level of fame of course also comes with a big fan following, something Asmi now seems to be getting a taste of. One of the most interesting experiences she had after winning the crown was having two girls show up outside her house just to meet her. “I was shocked!! They were so excited to meet me it was really cute,” she exudes.

As a Miss Nepal, Asmi has inherited a lot of responsibilities the foremost is representing Nepal in the Miss World pageant.  “I’m still in the brainstorming phase because it is something I have to carefully plan as I am representing the country. I’m meeting the best of the best, getting advice and exploring my options. Since ‘Beauty with a purpose’ is Nepal’s biggest strength right now, there are a few topics I’ve chosen. I’m going to Chitwan in a few days for a site visit to explore one of these very options.” 

As for her responsibilities towards Nepal and the youth of the country who will one day lead it, she has this to say: “To everyone, the message I would like to share is that it’s us who can actually transform our country. We will have to work hard and get ourselves out of the mess we are in. If we look at how we all stood together against the disaster after the earthquake last year, we have to continue in that spirit.”

“You don’t have to be in a high position with authority to make a difference. Just by giving our 100% in whatever we do, be it technology, business, or even acting and modeling, we can build a better nation. We sit at home and complain a lot; it’s high time we started working.”

For someone who is supposed to be responsible for inspiring the youth of Nepal, Asmi herself has been inspired by quite a few personalities. One of them happens to be Prabal Gurung, whom she met recently. “It was not really planned. Anil Keshari Shah invited me to the event, an Interaction with Prabal Gurung, and introduced me. One thing he told me that really moved me was that one should always dare to dream big. He said he is where he is today because of two things – his dreams and his courage. And that really made an impact on me.“

Besides Prabal Gurung, several of the former Miss Nepals have also had an impact on Asmi. “Every Miss Nepal has had a distinct quality that I look up to. Malvika didi is such a strong personality, Shweta ma’am has been a mentor. Ishani didi, I look up to as a big sister and I really admire all that she has achieved in Miss World. With Shristi didi, I feel like I can relate to her.”

Asmi’s reign, though just beginning, has not been without controversy. Soon after her crowing, there were a lot of comments, especially on the social media that only Newars were winning Miss Nepal. Asmi, for one, seems to be quite tired of these comments.

“I don’t know why people are going backwards. I don’t know why caste is being brought up in today’s context,” she says. “Newars are not the only ones participating. We go through the same training process. We are all judged by the same judges, most of whom are not Newars. I am not here to represent Newars, I’m here to represent Nepal,” She explains.

As for those who are still complaining about the alleged “quota system for Newars” in Miss Nepal, she would just like to say that “If you were to look at the list of former Miss Nepals, you’ll find different castes like Moktan, KC, Limbu, Chand and more. There is no such thing as only Newars winning. If you check the trends, it’ll be clear to you. ” Despite all these controversies, Asmi Shrestha seems to be living the dream. And we can only wish her all the best in her future ventures.