Muna Jama, a contestant for the Miss Universe pageant chose to wear a long, flowy kaftan in the bikini segment of the show - something far more conservative, that aligns with her modest taste and cultural preferences, reports mic.com.
Although the rules of the pageant don't allow for this alteration in choice of attire, the organisers made an exception for Jama.
When the contestant took to the stage donning an ensemble of a vibrantly printed kaftan, platform heels, a bedazzled choker and hoop earrings, she made history by being the first competitor ever to wear a kaftan during the swimsuit round.
“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,” Jama wrote on her Instagram.
“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 kaftan is so beautiful,” the model remarked. “It can be worn at the beach, it could be worn in public, it could be worn anywhere to be honest ... It’s an alternative without having to feel out of place or exposed," she added.
"It is my body and my choice and I believe people should do what they feel is right for them. I wore a kaftan because it was my choice, just as much as the beautiful women that shared the stage with me wore a bikini because it was their choice,” Jama said assertively.
In choosing to wear a more modest outfit as a swimsuit on stage, Jama joins the league of women like model Halima Aden, who made the history-making decision in 2016 to wear a hijab and a burkini during the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.
After the competition, which she did not win, Jama continued to feel the love on Instagram. As one person wrote: “You have inspired many who probably thought they couldn’t.” Another wrote, “Thank you for standing up for what you believe.”
“I didn’t enter the competition with expectations of inspiring anybody or representing a religion, a race, a country,” Jama said in an interview with Mic.
“I went in representing myself and staying true to myself. I didn’t do anything outside my normal life,” she added assertively.
“I think people in general can take from this that you can achieve anything in life without changing,” Jama concluded. “And just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Once upon a time women weren’t allowed to vote. ..." the model quipped.
"Organisations are entitled to say no but behind these organisations are people and I’m confident that these people are understanding beings. It is up to us to make them understand who we are. I hope that if someone has been refused in the past, this doesn’t stop them from trying and continue to be themselves,” she added.
The contestant is also founder of a start-up to address child abuse and issues that force migration.
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