A Pakistani-origin student from northern England is set to become the first hijab-wearing finalist of the Miss England beauty pageant in Nottinghamshire.
Sara Iftekhar, who is studying law at Huddersfield University in West Yorkshire region of England, will contest against 49 other hopefuls this evening for the crown after she had won the Miss Huddersfield 2018 title in July.
The 20-year-old, who also works as a make-up artist, is popular on social media and posts pictures of herself in traditional Pakistani outfits on her Instagram page.
“I did not expect to be making history. I do feel proud. At the end of the day, I may be the first woman to wear a hijab [at the Miss England final]. However, I am just a regular girl and we all have a fair opportunity in this contest,” Ms Sara said, adding that she decided to take part in Miss England for “a bit of fun”.
“If I want to cover myself up and dress modestly why should that be an issue? I am just like the other contestants. If I am sending out that message it will motivate other people to participate in a beauty contest,” she said.
At the age of 16, the make-up enthusiast started up a clothing business and donated profits to Beauty with a Purpose – a charity backed by the Miss World organisation.
On a fundraising page she set up for the children’s charity, she wrote, “I participated in Miss 2018 in order to show that beauty doesn’t have a definition. Everyone is beautiful in their own ways, regardless of their weight, race, colour or shape”.
“I still feel honoured to be one of the amazing girls in the top 50 chosen out of 22,000 women. I just can’t wait to see where this journey takes me,” she wrote on her Instagram page.
The winner of tonight’s event at Kelham Hall in Newark, Nottinghamshire, will represent England at the Miss World competition in Sanya, China, in December this year.