Ashleigh Kleintjes announces retirement as a beauty queen

Ashleigh Kleintjes

Former pageant title holder turned lawyer Ashleigh Kleintjes has announced her retirement as a beauty queen.

Kleintjes (26) is a BCom LLB graduate from the University of Pretoria and recently completed her legal practitioners qualifying examinations.

Kleintjes joined the world of pageants when she was in her early teens and says she always knew she would one day call it quits.

“‘I was in the industry for about 10 years. I did many pageants in those years and I always told myself I’m building up experience for Miss Namibia. Being Miss Namibia was always a childhood dream of mine. I always knew competing in Miss Namibia would be my end goal. So when I competed and placed in the top five, I completed that goal. Miss Namibia is the pinnacle of beauty pageants in our country, so for me, I have definitely reached the ceiling,” she says.

Kleintjes has also competed in other pageants like Miss Asia Pacific International in 2019 in the Philippines, where she placed in the top 25 out of 89 countries, Miss Supranational Namibia in 2020, where she was placed in the top six, and she won the Miss Debutante title.

Her final pageant was Miss Namibia in 2022.

Kleintjes refers to this as an incredible experience – especially because it gave her the platform to be able to realise her childhood dream.

“I gained years of experience to make sure I was fully prepared for my final pageant. Being able to showcase how hard I worked, it showed me that if you put in the hours, you can really achieve anything,” she says.

Being part of the pageant industry over the years gave her a sense of self esteem and confidence, she says, after initially starting with pageants to counter feeling self conscious about being skinny and tall.

“For me, being in a space where you are encouraged to be the best version of yourself has really helped to shaped me into a confident young woman. It has helped with my public speaking skills, the way I dress and overall the way I present myself. This has also translated well into my law career. It really has allowed me to be comfortable in my skin, because I think pageants really fosters a spirit of authenticity. Especially authenticity within yourself,” Kleintjes says.

Kleintjes says she will never forget the sisterhood she gained from the pageant world, where she met many great women who helped her to grow and develop.

“I made friends for life. I am still friends with contestants I met years ago. I think the bonds you form really last a lifetime. From the industry I do miss the heels, as I don’t really get a chance to wear heels that often anymore,” she says.

From here on out, Kleintjes says she will be focusing on her law career.

“I competed in pageants alongside finishing my degrees, as well as my qualifying exams, and while it’s wasn’t easy I managed to excel at both. While that was very rewarding, I think I have now reached the point where I need to focus on building a sustainable career, and I would also like to further my education. I am also still very much involved in my charity projects that I started years ago and I think this is also one of the most valuable things I take away from being involved in pageants,” Kleintjes says.

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