A politics student has reached the Miss England final after becoming the first make-up free contestant to take part in the pageant in its 94-year history.
Following her bare-faced appearance at the semi-final of the competition on Monday (22 August), Raouf will compete against 40 other women to be crowned Miss England in October.
Organisers of the event previously introduced a makeup free modelling round to the competition, but say it is the first time anyone has chosen to compete without makeup.
Raouf, who plans to also forgo makeup for the final, said it was a “daunting but amazing experience”.
“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.
“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.
“I think people should love and embrace their flaws and blemishes, as we know real beauty lies within simplicity.”
Raouf said she started wearing makeup 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.
“I still feel confident in myself, with makeup I’m all concealed. This is who I am, I’m not afraid to share who I am. I wanted to show who Melisa truly is.”
Raouf is also motivated by the influx of support she has had from other young girls and women, who tell her she has helped them feel more confident in themselves.
“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.”
Miss England organiser Angie Beasley introduced the makeup free round to the competition in 2019 after seeing how much makeup and cosmetic enhancement contestants had.
She said the round encourages women “to show us who they really are without the need to hide behind makeup and filters on social media”.
In order to qualify for the round, contestants must post a makeup free image of themselves on social media.
Commenting on Raouf’s decision, Beasley said: “I wish Melisa the best of luck in Miss England 2022.
“I’m all for make up to enhance your natural beauty but there’s no need for youngsters to wear it so thick that it looks like a mask.”
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