It's kind of crazy the Miss Universe pageant is still up and running, isn't it? Of course, it's a great way for women to gain a platform to do an incredible amount of good deeds and social outreach, including representing their country on the world's stage. But, as the world moves toward more progressive societies (and, in cases like ours, sadly, regressive), the flaws in the competition still remain. A bathing suit section, anyone? No thanks, said 27-year-old Muslim contestant Muna Jama. The Great Britain competitor is rewriting the rules of the event, and it's awesome.
Just when people thought the industry was getting gloomy, Jama reminded us why we continue to believe in the power of clothes. After applying to compete in the Great Britain leg of the Miss Universe competition, the Muslim pageant trailblazer pushed the judging committee to allow her to forego wearing a bikini for the swim portion of the competition and instead compete in an outfit that accords with her religion: a kaftan. Put simply to Metro.co.uk, Jama explained why she decided to speak up: "I wouldn’t wear a bikini to a beach, so I’m not going to wear one in a competition to score points." Hold for applause.
The result? This glorious moment of supreme, your-fave-could-never type of slayage that Jama shared on her Instagram. The 27-year-old explained to her followers why she decided to reclaim her right to wear what she's comfortable in for the notoriously intimidating branch of the pageant. "It takes bravery, emotional resilience and most importantly surrounding yourself with strong minded people who are prepared to make great sacrifices to welcome permanent and positive change," she wrote. "This moment has proved that I am capable of almost anything I set my mind to and limitations is a status waiting to be changed. I thank everyone who stood beside me and believed in my vision."
The feat marks the first time in history a Miss Universe contestant has worn a kaftan in lieu of a traditional bikini. But thanks to women like Jama, we've seen more and more contestants taking the competition into their own hands, and showing what it looks like to win the grand prize by being themselves, rather than conforming to societal standards of fashion and beauty. In addition to being a leading example that our clothes can be used to make statements beyond our physical appearance, Jama is also the co-founder of Cloudless Research, a start-up that works to regulate illegal migration and child abuse in East Africa, of which — pending a win — she plans to use her global platform to spread awareness. You go, girl.