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‘I Want to Change Opinions’: Miss England Contestant to Compete Wearing a Hijab

Maria Mahmood, a 20-year-old Muslim beauty queen from the West Midlands, has revealed that she will be the first Miss England contestant to compete wearing a hijab.

Of course she’s not the first Muslim woman to participate in the prestigious beauty pageant (British Afghan model Hammasa Kohistani crowned winner in 2005), but she will be the first contestant to take part wearing religious headgear.

Mahmood has already been making a name for herself in the run up to the competition; she came second in the Miss Birmingham heat and she then went on to make it through to the semi-finals of the national competition.

If successful, she’ll be given a chance to take to the stage at the Miss England Finals. And whoever wins that crown will be England’s representative of the ultimate competition: The Miss World Beauty Contest.

If that’s the case, she will take part in the swimwear rounds wearing a burkini according to reports in the tabloids. She told them that she wanted to directly challenge negative stereotypes and discrimination which she feels that Muslims often face in society.

“It’s pretty rare for a Muslim woman to be in a beauty pageant but there’s nothing to stop us entering,” the beauty queen and psychology student said. “I entered Miss Birmingham and the organisers were delighted to have a hijab-wearing Muslim in the competition.”

“They fast-tracked me through to the final where I competed against 30 girls and came second.” She added: “I couldn’t believe it.”

Mahmood has said that her family have been “really supportive” during the whole journey and have been totes behind her decision to wear a hijab during the competitions.

The aspiring social worker told the press that she has received a few negative comments about her choice of headgear, but it hasn’t made her determination falter. In fact, she’s preparing for and expecting more trolls and negativity as her public profile rises.

This is what we love to see here at Ummahsonic: Someone who will never let the haters block their path. Someone who will not allow negativity to stifle their enthusiasm and plans to achieve their goals and ambitions.  “What I’m doing is em­powering for Muslim women,” she says. “I want to change opinions. I’m anticipating most people will back me.”

The Miss England semi-final will be held in Newart, Nottinghamshire in July this year.

Featured Image Credit: Maria Mahmood via Facebook

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