A contestant for Miss England 2022 has made news by becoming the first participant in the pageant's 94-year history to compete without make-up.
Melisa Raouf, 20, who made it to the semi-finals this week, also won the contest's Bare Face Top Model award. The preliminary segment was introduced in 2019 to encourage contestants to "show us who they really are without the need to hide behind make-up and filters on social media”, organisers said.
Raouf, who will compete with 15 other women for the Miss England crown in October, told The Independent that she also plans to do away with cosmetics for the finals.
“It means a lot to me as I feel many girls of different ages wear make-up because they feel pressured to do so,” she said of her award.
“If one is happy in their own skin we should not be made to cover up our face with make-up. Our flaws make us who we are and that’s what makes every individual unique.
“I think people should love and embrace their flaws and blemishes, as we know real beauty lies within simplicity.”
Raouf, a politics student from London, said she started wearing make-up at a young age, but “never felt comfortable” in her own skin.
“I never felt I met beauty standards. I have recently accepted that I am beautiful in my own skin and that’s why I decided to compete with no make-up," she said.
"With mental health being such a big topic, I want to make all girls feel good. I just want to remove all the beauty standards. I feel like all girls are beautiful in their own way. I feel like I’ve done it for all girls.”
On the Miss England website, Raouf, who was born and raised in London, describes herself as an "aspiring diplomat".
"I enjoy visiting the British Library during my free periods in college. I’ve had the privilege of global travel, which has taught me about diversity, race and religion. I also enjoy writing fictional pieces in my own time," she said. "Global politics is of keen interest to me, both personally and as an aspiring diplomat. I would love to focus on getting more women in the political field due to high male dominance in world politics."
A series of qualifying heats have been held ahead of the Miss England finals in October. Besides Raouf's Bare Face Top Model award, winners have also been named in a number of categories, including Charity Queen, Talent Queen, Publicity Queen and Climate Queen.
The winner of Miss England will represent the country at the annual Miss World pageant, the location for which is yet to be announced.
Poland's Karolina Bielawska took the title of Miss World 2021 at a Covid-19-delayed event held in March this year in Puerto Rico.