Cook spices up Anglo-Swiss relations
The new Miss Switzerland Kerstin Cook gives swissinfo.ch some beauty tips and talks about chocolate smuggling and life after beauty contests.
The bubbly 21-year-old sales assistant was born and bred in Lucerne, but both her parents come from London.
She also weighs in on the recent cabinet elections, sexism and the role of women in society.
Cook, 84-61-91, whose fuchsia bikini delighted viewers last weekend, is currently studying biology A-level - the British qualification for further study - via distance learning with a view to becoming a physiotherapist.
Swiss beauty queens usually earn SFr400,000-500,000 ($410,000-510,000) during their year in the spotlight, and their male counterparts don’t do badly either.
Listen to an extended interview by clicking on the attached audio file.
swissinfo.ch: Congratulations on becoming Miss Switzerland, but to my untrained eye all the contestants looked half-presentable – why do you think you won?
Kerstin Cook: That’s really difficult. It’s what happens on the evening that counts – how you move, how you smile, how you speak to the audience. I really can’t say why I won. I just somehow got them to vote for me...
swissinfo.ch: The current Mister Switzerland is also from Lucerne – is everyone beautiful there? Is there something in the water?
K.C: Lucerne is beautiful! Maybe it’s the year of Lucerne because their football club is currently at the top of the Swiss league. [Cook's boyfriend Silvan Büchli plays for FC Luzern.]
swissinfo.ch: What are your beauty tips? Do you have a cooked English breakfast every morning?
K.C: Sometimes on a Sunday I have an English breakfast, but my beauty tip is 'stay natural'. Don’t overdo it with make-up – just show your inner beauty and show who you are the natural way.
swissinfo.ch: Do your English genes come out in your personality? Are you always talking about the weather?
K.C: I’m really sarcastic and in Switzerland not many people are sarcastic. I think I got that from my dad. I love Monty Python, I think that’s really funny! I like EastEnders as well – all the drama.
swissinfo.ch: Do you travel to Britain much?
K.C: All our family are there – my mum and dad and brothers live in Switzerland, but my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins all live in England, so I go back once or twice a year.
swissinfo.ch: What differences do you notice?
K.C: England’s a bit cheaper than Switzerland – food is a lot cheaper – and I love the chocolate. Cadbury’s Flakes – I love them! You don’t have that in Switzerland. We always bring tonnes of food back with us!
swissinfo.ch: And when you’re in England what do you miss from Switzerland?
K.C: Actually not that much! I really like it in England – I’ve always wanted to go and study there. Who knows – maybe one day I’ll move there.
swissinfo.ch: So when England beat Switzerland at football – as they did a few weeks ago…
K.C: I support England! I’m a big Chelsea fan.
swissinfo.ch: One difference between the two countries is that in Switzerland beauty competitions are big business whereas in Britain they’re generally considered a bit of naff sexism that whiffs of the 1970s. Why do you think they’re so popular here?
K.C: I’m not sure. Maybe Swiss people like being beautiful and instead of judging by character they judge by what people look like? I don’t really know.
swissinfo.ch: A week before Miss Switzerland there were elections for the Swiss cabinet, which now has female majority for the first time. What do you make of that?
K.C: Of course it’s good news. It’s nice to see that women can do the same things that blokes can, but I wouldn’t say that women are better than blokes or blokes are better than women – it depends on what they do as individuals. It doesn’t depend on gender. But it’s nice to see that women are getting up there.
swissinfo.ch: Do you know when women got the vote in Switzerland?
swissinfo.ch: Have a guess.
K.C: I haven’t a clue.
swissinfo.ch: 1771, 1871 or 1971?
swissinfo.ch: It was indeed. For the next 12 months you’re basically a professional beauty queen. What are you looking forward to the most?
K.C: I’m really looking forward to all the photo shoots for all our sponsors – and of course seeing all the fans and being able to do something for Switzerland. And the travelling.
I’m actually looking forward to everything because it’s all new to me – normally I’m a person who’s more in the background and doesn’t know a lot about this beauty stuff. I always wanted to know who won [Miss Switzerland], but I never really watched the whole thing.
swissinfo.ch: Can you guide your year to a certain degree?
K.C: Yes, I was thinking about doing something with animals or children, because there are so many children who have really hard lives. I’d like to do something like that – or animals, because I love animals. I would never harm an animal.
swissinfo.ch: You're a vegetarian?
K.C: Er, no. I wouldn’t harm an animal, but I will eat it! (Laughs guiltily.)
swissinfo.ch: You’ve already got in trouble with animal lovers who say that keeping your pet rabbit on its own is animal cruelty. Did you expect controversy so soon into your reign?
K.C: Not at all! I’ve had my rabbit for about five years and previously they didn’t say anything about having to have two rabbits together, so when that law came in she’d already been on her own for a few years. I’ve promised everyone I’m going to look for another rabbit...
swissinfo.ch: You’ve modelled since you were 15, but you’re also doing an A-level in biology. Why biology?
K.C: I’ve always wanted to be a physiotherapist and you need biology A-level to be able to do physiotherapy.
I’ve been doing athletics since I was eight or so, and it’s just really interesting to see how muscles work and how you can help muscles get better after an injury. I’m interested in everything to do with the body and in England there are loads of good physiotherapy schools.
swissinfo.ch: So when you give back the crown you’re not going to go down the usual modelling-acting-singing route?
K.C: No. I’m quite sure I’ll go into physiotherapy.
swissinfo.ch: Final question: if you had to choose, would you rather be ugly or stupid?
K.C: (Pause) Ugly. If you’re intelligent you can live out your dreams.
Born: April 15, 1989.
Lives: Kriens, Lucerne.
Measurements: 84-61-91. 180 cm (5’11).
Marital status: She has been going out with footballer Silvan Büchli, who plays for FC Lucerne, for three years.
Likes: Athletics, inline skating, London, New York, rabbits.
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