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Photo by Chris Lewis
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It’s not every day you get to meet a real ‘Miss’ in the flesh – and this is no less than the reigning Miss Germany! Anne Julia Hagen, a 19-year-old born-and-bred Berlinerin, was voted Miss Alexanderplatz and then Miss Berlin before her consecration as Germany’s beauty queen last February.
Under a strict ban from expressing her political views, the Miss’ conversation might have been as polished as her pretty face. So we asked the American and English studies major to take us to her favourite spot for a chat about her charity work and, of course, beauty. In her remote ’hood in the north western suburbs of Berlin, she takes us on a long stroll along the picturesque banks of her favourite Heiligensee. (Check out the slideshow on the side for her more
Why did you choose this place?
It is so romantic, especially at sunset. I wanted to show that Berlin has more to it than just the city, more than crazy people and art. There’s also nature! I live just 150 metres down the street so I’ve been coming here my whole life – it’s my home. I come here with friends, sunbathe on summer days and watch the stars at night. It’s a real sanctuary.
I used to come here as a child, a great time for me, when you didn’t have to worry about things. I really like to remember that time… you were innocent. Now there’s pressure from everywhere; you have to be ambitious to work, to earn money. You really have to enjoy your childhood [as] it’s over very quickly.
What about the inner city?
A lot of people say Berlin is very ugly and dirty, that there are a lot of horrible high-rises in the east, but still, Berlin is great, a ‘city beauty’! I really like Ernst-Reuter-Platz. I love to sit by the fountain on a week night when it’s beautifully lit-up and there is no one around.
Although you were born after the fall of the Wall, do you sometimes feel the city’s still divided?
Sometimes you feel, for example, people from the east are different. The style is different. Those creative types with nerd-glasses or crazy neon-hair, pink or green, or a lot of people have piercings. But I love it all; it’s Berlin!
You sound a bit conservative...
Maybe I am, yes. I’m not so experimental with style. I’m not the type to go crazy with hair and everything. I went to a Catholic school; maybe that’s the reason.
Is that why you do charity work? [Voluntary tutoring project Der Lernpate – Kinder für Kinder.] Why help Berlin school children and not, say, baby whales?
The impulse was that book about crime and integration problems in Berlin by Kirsten Heisig, the German juvenile magistrate who committed suicide last June – I read it and knew I had to do something for society, for people. It’s nothing to do with my religion.
Sounds like all ‘Misses’ need to do some good.
No, it was my idea. I’m doing it as Anne Julia Hagen – not Miss Germany! The book opened my eyes to the connection between crime and education and that we need to integrate immigrant kids. It’s really important if we want less crime.
So what’s the plan?
The idea is that if we want kids to have a good future, it’s important they learn well at school, that they speak good German. Not only immigrant kids; all kids. So, we get children to learn from one another – get an older pupil to help with their homework or read books and play together. The project starts in 3rd grade in elementary school and the pupils learn together in groups of 10. It also puts kids from different religions in contact.
What will happen in February when a new Miss Germany is elected?
I’ll continue my projects. Miss Germany is just a platform to develop new contacts, an opportunity, a chance. I’m much more.
Your voicemail says, “Hi, you’ve reached Miss Germany 2010.” So you’ll erase it?
No matter what, I’ll always be Miss Germany 2010!
What’s next? What ambitions or dreams do you have?
My biggest dream is really big! When I’m 30, I want to have the perfect husband (good looks and great personality!), start a family and have a beautiful house. I want to be healthy and for my family and friends to be healthy. I don’t necessarily want to be famous, but to have a lot of money so I can do what I want. I’m working on it!
Do you see yourself as beautiful?
I’m happy with how I am. I like my face and my body, even if I’m not the skinniest model. I’m a woman with curves and I like it!