A Miss England finalist has become the first ever beauty queen to compete without wearing any makeup in the pageant's nearly century-long history.
Melisa Raouf, a 20-year-old college student from south London, moved forward at the pageant's semifinals on Monday after opting for a barefaced look. Now, she'll compete in the finals this October for the crown.
"It means a lot to me as I feel many girls of different ages wear makeup because they feel pressured to do so," Raouf said in an interview with the UK's Independentnewspaper.
"If one is happy in their own skin we should not be made to cover up our face with makeup. Our flaws make us who we are and that's what makes every individual unique," she added.
Raouf said that, though she started wearing makeup at a young age, she decided to eschew tradition for the pageant.
"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 makeup," she explained in the interview.
In May, Raouf posted a selfie on Instagram from the "bare face" round of the competition, writing that she was "embracing blemishes and imperfections."
Angie Beasley, director of Miss England, told CNN in a statement on Friday: "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."
According to organizers, Raouf plans to go bare-faced again at the national final in October.
"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.