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Muna Jama was excited to participate in her first pageant competing for Miss Universe Great Britain. But there was one issue for the London-native: Wearing a bikini in the swimsuit portion of the competition would go against the 28-year-old Muslim woman's religious beliefs.
That might have been the end of the road for some women in her position, but Jama decided to take a stand.
"It's important for people to speak out," Jama told TODAY Style in an email. "I'm not saying that you'll always receive the answer that you want to hear, but it's important that you're heard and you stand for what you believe in."
So Jama went to the organizers of the pageant, who she says were "understanding," and they accepted her request to wear something a bit different — a caftan, which she absolutely rocked.
As Jama told Metro UK, "I wouldn't wear a bikini to the beach, so I'm not going to wear one in a competition to score points."
She sported the modest look with black platform heels, a silver choker necklace and hoop earrings. While she looked fabulous, Jama also made history as the first woman to wear a caftan during the bikini portion of the competition.
She explained that while every pageant circuit has its own set of rules, the Miss Universe pageant in particular has "embraced diversity and has welcomed unity among people from all walks of life."
Jama has received an outpouring of support and positive affirmations from family, friends and strangers on the internet who have heard about her story. She said that people of all religions, races and genders have been able to relate to and find inspiration within her story.
"I wanted to be a part of an experience that embraces women who want to make a difference," Jama said. "My intention wasn't to create history; it was just to be myself."
Now, Jama has opened the door for women to wear an alternative to the bikini in the swimsuit portion of beauty pageants. Talk about a trendsetter!