The 2018 Rose of Tralee says the competition is about empowering women and not about how a person looks.
Kirsten Mate Maher’s comments follow extensive media coverage focusing on her appearance in recent weeks.
The newly crowned Rose says she is proud of both her Irish and Zambian heritage.
Speaking to Jerry O’Sullivan on Kerry Today, the 2018 Rose of Tralee says the competition celebrates and empowers women.
She adds people should embrace different races but not get hung up on it.