Before participating in the Miss Universe Great Britain pageant this July, Muna Jama, a Muslim woman and the founder of a start-up to address child abuse and issues that force migration, made it clear that she would not be wearing a bikini for the pageant's infamous swimsuit round.
"I wouldn't wear a bikini to the beach, so I'm not going to wear one in a competition to score points," she told Metro U.K.
While the competition, which is a qualifier for the Miss Universe pageant, hadn't previously allowed this kind of substitution, the organizers ended up giving Jama the OK. So Jama decided instead to wear something far more covered, and more align with her taste and preferences: a kaftan.
When Jama took to the stage during the bikini portion of the competition, decked in a multi-colored kaftan, platform heels, a bedazzled choker and hoop earrings, she made history by being the first competitor to ever wear a kaftan during the swimsuit round.
In choosing to wear a more modest outfit as a swimsuit on stage, Jama joins 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.
"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 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."
After the competition, which shedid 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."
Mic has reached out to Jama for further comment.