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Bhasha Mukherjee
Courtesy @bhashamukherjee

Miss England beauty pageant introduces new body positive make-up free round


TextTish Weinstock

But don’t get too excited, it’s only optional

For the first time in its longstanding history, the Miss England beauty pageant has introduced a new make-up free round to its competition. Conceived by Miss England founder Angie Beasley, the “Bare Face Top Model” round is intended as a celebration of individuality, imperfection and natural beauty, away from the homogenising tendencies of heavy make-up. 

 "I'm hoping this round will encourage our contestants to wear less makeup," says Beasley. “I see so many of our contestants entering with a face full of make-up covering their natural beauty. Fake eyelashes and brows, there really is no need for this to enter our contest." 

To enter, contestants are being asked to submit a headshot and full-length photograph of themselves wearing a black vest top, jeans and no make-up. Judged by a scout from Fascia Models, the winner will be fast-tracked into the top 20 contestants at the competition.

The move is being heralded by some as a progressive step in the name of body positivity, especially as it comes a year after Muslim student Sara Iftekhar became the first contestant to compete in the final stages of the Miss England pageant while wearing a hijab. Contestant Bhasha Mukherjee relished the chanced to be involved, taking to Instagram to announce her participation in the challenge. 

"So as part of my #MissEngland2019 journey I had to rise up to the challenge and bare it all on camera. Makeup is a means of enhancement but how often do the lines get blurred between enhancement and concealment...It's just easier to blend into the crowd than own your flaws forgetting that it's these that make you you. So here I am owning my flaws. My imperfect skin. My short sparse eye lashes and brows. No filter. No enhancement. No Photoshop.” 

However, one can’t help but feel this is something of a PR stunt. Not only is the round optional, to take part contestants are being asked to post their submissions on social media, which feels slightly suspect. 

Beauty pageants have long been a contentious subject, with feminists criticising the competition for objectifying women and promoting longstanding and unrealistic ideals of beauty. Earlier this year, the Miss India beauty pageant was criticised for its lack of diversity and for perpetuating Euro-centric ideals of beauty. 

While any celebration of natural beauty should be commended, pitting women against each other in a competition based on something so subjective as beauty is never really going to sit right.

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