For years, beauty pageants have been watched by millions across the globe. And as times changed, there has been a shift of cultural values–women of all colours, and even transgender women could now join competitions like Miss Universe.
Most recently, another historic moment happened and it’s a turning point for beauty contests, as Muna Jama–a Muslim woman competing in the Miss Universe Great Britain pageant–refused to compete in the swimsuit round if it meant that she had to wear a bikini.
Two years ago, the 27-year-old London native was initially selected to compete, but she declined as she did not want to break religious traditions. But at her re-entry this year, she opened a discussion with the pageant heads to wear a cover-up for the segment, which they agreed to. “It wasn’t easy, but I think it was the first time they have heard someone asking for it,” she shares with AOL. “I wouldn’t wear a bikini to the beach, so I’m not going to wear one in a competition to score points”.
It takes bravery, emotional resilience and most importantly surrounding yourself with strong minded people who are prepared to make great sacrifices to welcome permanent and positive change. I may not be able to unwrite a moment in my life but I know a moment will never define me. I will always rise above your expectations and pushed past your limitations. You are what you say you are, and your imaginations can be your worst enemy unless you overcome your fears. Be careful of what you think of others because it’s a reflection of what you are. Work at being a better person, and one day we can welcome a better World. . . This moment has proved that I am capable of almost anything I set my mind to and limitations is a status waiting to be changed. I thank everyone who stood beside me and believed in my vision. 🙏🙌❤😘😙😘😍🙆😊💓 . . #missuniverse #mugb2017 #missuniversegb #fear #migrant #refugee #positive #change #love #modelling #friends #family #girls #pageant #empowerment #inspiration #inspire #aspire #history #munajama #caftan #kaftan #stage #london #dubai #love #indonesia #malaysia @missuniversegb Photographer @leedarephotography
Now, she stands as the first woman to not wear a bikini in the pageant’s swimsuit portion. She strutted down the runway in a gorgeous colorful kaftan, accessorized with a silver rhinestone choker and hoop earrings. Muna took to Instagram to express how significant the moment was for her saying, “This moment has proved that I am capable of almost anything I set my mind to and limitations is a status waiting to be changed. I thank everyone who stood beside me and believed in my vision”.
Muna Jama’s unrelenting charge for incluvisity and change goes even beyond the field of beauty pageants, as she is also an activist and a co-founder of Cloudless Research, a start-up that addresses illegal migrations of Africans and child abuse in East Africa. Despite not winning the competition, Jama made a great cultural impact to the world of pageantry, and it also sparked discussion in standing up for one’s beliefs.
“No one lets their child run towards high seas when they can’t swim, unless sinking ships is safer than staying on land. A land you once called home. I am working towards welcome a world where child won’t be manipulated and discouraged by evil people who pray on poverty and death. A world where we listen to each other’s pain and find a resolution benefiting humanity; and not human traffickers.” – Muna Jama Photographer: Me Date: January, 2017 Location: Somalia #MediterraneanSea #migrantcrisis #refugeecrisis #Italy #Greece #UK #London #Egypt #Somalia #Ethiopia #Sudan #SouthSudan #illegalmigration #Forcedlabour #Unitednations #childabuse #humantraffickers #childtraffickers #slaverymodernday #sextrafficking #Somaliland #EuropeanNations #EuropeanUnion
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