Sara Iftekhar, a 20-year-old law student from West Yorkshire, is set to become the very first Miss England contestant to wear a hijab while competing in the final stages of the beauty pageant.
She’s currently studying for a law degree at the University of Huddersfield and holds the title of Miss Huddersfield 2018.
While there have been previous instances of Muslim women who wear hijabs taking part in the Miss England contest, Iftekhar will soon be the first to reach the finals while doing so.
If the law student is named Miss England 2018, she’ll then represent the country at the Miss World contest, the longest running international beauty pageant in the world.
This year’s Miss World pageant is taking place on December 8 in Sanya, China and will be the 68th iteration of the competition.
Iftekhar will find out whether she’s reached the global contest after she takes part in the Miss England pageant in Nottinghamshire today and tomorrow.
The women taking part in this year’s Miss England contest have been encouraged to raise money for the charity “Beauty with a Purpose”, which was founded by Miss World Chairwoman and CEO Julia Morley.
Iftekhar has explained her motivation for taking part in Miss England on the GoFundMe page that she set up for the charity, which raises money for underprivileged children around the world.
“I participated in Miss [England] 2018 in order to show that beauty doesn’t have a definition, everyone is beautiful in their own ways, regardless of their weight, race, colour or shape,” she wrote.
A number of people have expressed their admiration for Iftekhar on social media and their opposition to some of the discriminatory comments that she’s received.
“People are angry over a Muslim winning Miss England? Personally, I’m happy to see diversity. Celebrate her beauty!” one person wrote on Twitter.
Another person wrote: “Fantastic that this year’s Miss England finals will have a Muslim student wearing the hijab for the first time. Great to celebrate the beauty in our diversity.”
Taking part in beauty pageants isn’t Iftekhar’s only fashionable pursuit, as she also created her own clothing business at the age of 16.
Earlier this year, model Halima Aden made history by becoming the first hijab-wearing model to appear on the cover of British Vogue in the publication’s 102-year history.
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