June 12, 1988 — Beauty pageants were seen as a feature of the “decadent” West and condemned by the comrades of Soviet Russia – until this day when the Kremlin capitulated and the first Moscow Beauty contest was held.
In a society where everyone was – officially – considered equal, there were no entry restrictions and anyone could take part, regardless of size, shape, or age. Even mature schoolgirls tried their luck.
And that is how the competition changed the life of Maria Kalinina, a Moscow schoolgirl who was just sixteen years and nine months old when she emerged as the winner. Photographed, filmed and fêted as the latest Russian celebrity, she was signed up by a modelling agency and then worked on assignments across Europe.
Two years later she moved to the United States, attended drama school, then began to appear in commercials and films.
In 2006, Maria played a vampire in the Hollywood horror movie, Stay Alive, but the on-screen violence and torture sickened her, causing her to change her lifestyle, taking up Yoga and becoming a vegetarian.
Today, she runs a business teaching Kundalini yoga and lives in Los Angeles with the owner of a body-building school.
It is a far cry from the day when, as a schoolgirl, she turned the heads of beauty pageant judges in Moscow and collected her “fabulous” prize as the winner – a television set.
Published: April 26, 2016