For the first time in the 94-year-old history of the Miss England beauty pageant, a contestant has chosen to be makeup-free on stage.
Melisa Raouf, from London, took part in the contest's semi-final round earlier this week without any makeup on. In October, she will compete for the Miss England crown also barefaced.
The 20-year-old told The Independent it was daunting to go on stage in an all-natural look but said she was motivated by a desire to show the world who she truly is.
“I never felt I met beauty standards," Raouf said. "I have recently accepted that I am beautiful in my own skin and that’s why I decided to compete with no make-up.
Acutely aware of how pursuing unrealistic beauty standards affects mental health, the Miss England finalist said she wanted to make women feel confident.
"I just want to remove all the beauty standards," Raouf told The Independent. "I feel like all girls are beautiful in their own way. I feel like I’ve done it for all girls.”
Raouf's move seems to have had an impact. She has received an outpouring of support from young girls and women.
The Miss England pageant also includes a bareface round, that organisers say helps them see who a contestant actually is.
"We introduced the Bare Face Top Model round in 2019 as most contestants were submitting highly edited images wearing lots of makeup and we wanted to see the real person behind the makeup," Miss England director Angie Beasley told CNN.
She said what Raouf was doing was very brave."We wish her the best of luck in Miss England, it's a very brave thing to do when everyone else is wearing makeup but she's sending out an important message to young women," Beasley added.