Miss England Pageant Finalist Helping Youth Feel Comfortable in Their Skin
In today’s world, social media and society dictate unattainable beauty and life standards. It’s hard for people to feel comfortable in their own skin when constantly comparing themselves to other people and the false sense of reality they portray online. But one 20-year-old college student from London wanted to challenge these false standards, helping everyone feel beautiful on the inside and out.
- Melisa Raouf, a Miss England finalist, just became the first ever contestant to compete in the Miss England beauty pageant without wearing an ounce of makeup.
- Raouf wanted to use her position in the competition to show young girls and boys everywhere that it’s ok to be comfortable in your own skin and not conform to unattainable beauty standards.
- Seeing the Miss England finalist and other influencers show their followers that they don’t need to look picture-perfect at all times is a positive and determining change.
Changing beauty standards one step at a time
Melisa Raouf spent her whole life in London competing in pageants and wearing a lot of makeup. She described that she never really felt comfortable in her own skin, especially since she was always surrounded by pageant culture and felt like she always had to be put together.
She recently competed in the Miss England pageant competition, where she made an unprecedented decision. Melisa Raouf was the first person in 94 years of the national pageant to compete without wearing an ounce of makeup AND become one of the Miss England finalists.
This act garnered a lot of attention and questions. To answer these questions, Raouf stated that she wanted to banish the “toxic beauty standards of social media” and promote the value of inner beauty qualities while competing.
Though surrounded by contestants in makeup, Raouf said in an interview following the semi-finals that she was surprised at how empowered it actually made her feel and like she was making a difference. The director of the pageant also commented and said that her whole team wishes Melisa luck in the next and final phase of the pageant.
Mental Health Benefits
By competing in a pageant without any makeup, Melisa Raouf wanted to liberate young kids everywhere from the pressure of thinking they have to look and dress a certain way all the time. As small as you may think this stunt was, it has the power to provide a strong message with a positive impact which challenges the held notion of what a beauty pageant might accomplish.
- Embracing blemishes and imperfections
The prevalence of flawless skin - whether it's through a filter or skillful makeup - has begun to create the notion that blemishes such as acne and scars are not beautiful and shouldn’t be visible in posts like on Instagram. This has caused an epidemic of people editing their faces and bodies to hide their blemishes or “imperfections”.
Melisa Raouf decided to embrace any and all natural marks on her face to send the message that scars and blemishes are signs of life and should be embraced!
- Increasing self-esteem and confidence
There are many cases where social media makes people feel like they have to be camera-ready at all times. This can deeply lower a person's self-esteem, especially a younger and more impressionable person. Influencers and celebrities hold a lot of power over the "ideal reality" standard, and promoting a lifestyle that takes so much time and money to look a certain way is unhealthy. Maybe followers would feel more comfortable stepping outside their house without spot touching their blemishes or putting on mascara if the feeds they watched and admired didn't look picture perfect all the time.
When it comes to makeup and clothes, it is easy to compare products or items. Someone could feel like since their foundation isn’t over $50 it isn’t good enough, or if you don’t leave the house with a full face of makeup, you’re a mess.
Don’t get me wrong, I love makeup just as much as the next person…but it’s different when makeup is used to hide rather than express. By not wearing makeup, the Miss England finalist aimed to promote a wider image of "acceptable beauty", showing her bare face does not make her any less worthy to compete.
While social media can be great for staying in touch, it also fosters a toxic environment. According to the Global Web Index, Gen Z (the generation of technology) spends about an average of 2 hours and 43 minutes a day on social media.
Depending on which definition you look at, Gen Zers can be anywhere between 10 and 27 years old. This means that in the most formative years of a person’s life, they are already being overly exposed to the false reality people put on the internet. This can cause them to develop low self-esteem and mental health issues at a very young age.
So what can we do to follow in Miss England finalists’ footsteps and help change the narrative of what our younger generation thinks of themselves?
First, let's remember that not everything we see on social media is “real.” This will allow people, especially young kids, to scroll past stuff without comparing their lives or looks to others. We can also learn to set boundaries with our devices to significantly increase happiness and self-image.
Lastly, we can walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. Next time you go to post something, make sure you aren’t giving off a false sense of reality or significantly editing your pictures. I know this may be hard at the start, but it's an important step in escaping the toxic standards society places on you. Melisa Raouf can be an inspiration to all of us in accepting our natural beauty not just on the outside, but on the inside too.
Written by Emma Carlson
- Photo via Instagram