Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

'I wanted to stay true to myself as a Muslim': Miss England contestant wears wetsuit for swimsuit competition

Aysha Khan wanted to 'push forward the message that swimwear doesn’t necessarily mean a bikini'

Miss England contestant, Aysha Khan, wore a wetsuit for the swimsuit competition. Facebook / Aysha Khan
Miss England contestant, Aysha Khan, wore a wetsuit for the swimsuit competition. Facebook / Aysha Khan

Aysha Khan, a Muslim Miss England contestant, has challenged stereotypes by posing in a wetsuit for the swimsuit portion of the competition. She has since made it through to the final stage of Miss England.

Khan, 21, from Lancashire, England, shared the images of herself on a beach wearing the wetsuit on Facebook, explaining her decision to do so in the caption.

Some women feel more confident showing more skin and some women feel more confident showing less

"I decided to enter the round this year, however I wanted to push forward the message that swimwear doesn’t necessarily mean a bikini," the Education Studies student wrote. "Empowerment can be felt in many different ways and can be promoted in many different ways. Some women may feel more confident showing more skin and some women feel more confident showing less – the message being; empowerment is a personal feeling, and not wearing a bikini does not mean I am not confident about my body."

But didn't they ban the swimsuit portion of Miss England?

Yes, Miss England banned the obligatory swimsuit competition on 2010, but it has actually since been replaced, in part, with an optional swimsuit competition. This year, that portion of the competition, the Miss Beach Beauty round, was sponsored by Mauritius Tourism.

Those who chose to take part stood to win a trip to Mauritius and the winner would be fast-tracked into the top 20 of the Miss England competition. There are other rounds that can fast track a competitor, including bare faced model (a round that Aysha also competed in).

Khan added of the optional submission, "For me this round ... had nothing to do with winning, but simply taking part. I had so much fun and it’s an experience I’ll never forget."

The pageant contestant has already won Miss Lancashire, and spoke to local newspaper, the Lancashire Telegraph, telling them: “This round is completely optional, and I didn’t want to miss out, so I submitted a photo in a surf suit. I wanted to show a different take on swimwear, and that you don’t have to wear a bikini to go to the beach."

She added: "I think other girls can see this and realise that they can do the same. Particularly because of my background, being Muslim too, I wanted to stay true to myself.”

Khan is now in the finals, which is judged in-part by public vote, as it stands she has 150 votes, while the contestant in the lead has 2,469. You can see the votes here. The winner will be crowned on August 1.

Updated: July 17, 2019 10:33 AM

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