A student at Cambridge, a feminist, and now Miss England. Why can’t I be all three?

Beauty contests are about far more than physical appearance


I am in my fifth year studying medicine at Cambridge University, and on Monday night in Torquay I was crowned Miss England 2014. There is no contradiction between the two parts of my life: the competition is about so much more than just 'looking pretty'

Contrary to popular belief, physical beauty is only a sixth of the modern competition. Looks alone do not triumph; to represent their nation, a ‘Miss’ has demonstrate a number of qualities, including being charitable and caring, healthy and hard-working, talented and trained. You are judged by raising money for the charity Beauty with a Purpose, taking part in a military boot camp, demonstrating a talent, creating an eco-friendly dress, and having a beautiful personality. A ‘Miss’ is not born overnight; she has to work hard and want to help others. 

I’m a student doctor, and I want people to judge me not just on the way I look, but on my whole personality, and the things I have worked so hard to achieve. My friends and family appreciate that I have always wanted to make a positive difference in the world, which is why I am training to become a doctor, but that by entering the competition I hope that I will have the opportunity to make a difference on a much larger scale.

Carina Tyrell was crowned Miss England 2014 Carina Tyrell was crowned Miss England 2014 But I believe that beauty has a positive role to play in society. People in the public eye, like the winners of the 'Miss' competitions, can champion good causes and inspire others. I would like to encourage young women to be well rounded, not to take their education for granted, and to realise that being beautiful is about their personality as a whole. I would also like to help those who suffer, not only medically once I am a doctor, but also by using my public platform to raise awareness of local and global issues by speaking out and fundraising for important causes. In the last 3 years alone Miss England has raised over £500,000 for disadvantaged children in this country.

I firmly believe that beauty pageants are still relevant in 2014.  In the 21st century, it is shocking that some women still do not have basic rights over their own bodies. I consider myself a feminist, and by participating in a beauty pageant, I am exercising my right to be involved in a movement that encourages women to be independent future leaders.

Over 10,000 women applied to be Miss England 2014, at over 80 heats held across the country. I was lucky enough to be chosen as the winner, and crowned a beautiful ambassador for my country. But all my fellow contestants are young women who are successful and charitable, and want to make a difference to others.  These are not qualities that should be derided, or women that should be mocked.


This article has been updated on 18 June to reflect the fact that Carina Tyrell has now won the Miss England competition.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - web services, XML and API

£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...

Primary teachers required for schools in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Brooks Newmark  

If Brooks Newmark is ‘sick’ what does that say about the rest of us?

Simon Kelner
Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi where Mohammad Asghar is being held  

Mohammed Ashgar: A Briton on death row in Pakistan who the Government must act to save

David Morrisey
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style