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33-year-old mom wins Miss Germany contest

February 28, 2021

This year's contest has been won by Miss Thuringia. The show has struggled to separate itself from the more stereotypical objectification of women.

Anja Kallenbach wearing her Miss Germany sash
Anja Kallenbach will hold the role of Miss Germany for the next 12 monthsImage: Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa/picture alliance

Anja Kallenbach was named Miss Germany 2021 on Saturday evening after competing against 15 other finalists.

There was no audience present for the event due to coronavirus restrictions, but the show was broadcast live over YouTube. The event carried the tagline: "Empowering authentic women."

The triumphant mother of two hails from the eastern state of Thuringia. According to her profile on the Miss Germany website, Kallenbach would like to be a role model to other women with her "accumulated experiences in life, her profession, as a mother, as a friend, a woman and life-affirming person."

COVID-19 and women's equality

This was the second time the competition took place after a revamp aimed to focus on the women's characters rather than on their looks.

A contest of contradictions

The competition's format was changed after receiving criticism for its objectification of women. Rather than being valued for their beauty, the candidates now have to prove their worth through how well they present their unique messages.

This year's list of contestants included an activist fighting against fatphobia, a survivor of sexual violence, a former Jehovah's Witness and a woman with an ileostomy.

"I wouldn't have taken part in a beauty contest," said Cynthia Junghans, the candidate from Hesse. "Who needs to see someone walking around in a bikini?"

Despite claims by the show to have changed direction, the contestants were still asked to answer questions on topics such as "family and home" and "beauty and care."

The woman also came out in various outfits even as the contest claimed to give no importance to outward appearance anymore.

'Empowering authentic women'

Kallenbach left school before turning 17 and then went on to study business management. She lives with her two daughters and her partner, with whom she runs two bicycle businesses.

She began modeling when she was 27 after both of her children were born.

Her goal in the competition was to encourage women to "do whatever feels good, no matter how old they are, what they look like, or what other people say."

She received her sash from last year's winner, Leonie von Hase.

ab/sms (dpa, AFP)