Call me old-fashioned, but a hijab-wearing Muslim woman appearing in the Miss England contest is not a step forward for Muslims nor for women. Beauty pageants–& I speak from experience, having been in one in my youth–are the equivalent of livestock shows. They reduce women to beauty, augmented with all kinds of prosthetics, & are designed to put women at odds with each other over the issue of ‘who is the fairest of us all.’

Let me reveal to you, as a senior woman, that the ancient secret of womanhood is that youth, by its very nature, is beautiful, the energy of youth, magical. We seniors have a different kind of magic beauty. But all women should be allowed to enjoy their beauty without invidious comparisons to others for any reason. You should look at your lovely face every day in the mirror, smile & savor your incarnation, & thank your lucky stars you were born to create, love, dance, sing, make this world a suitable place for kids.

(Just for the record, I love cosmetics just like other women, & love to doll myself up. What makes me sad is that what we are is never good enough & that they keep inventing new ways to enhance our beauty which only distract from our real beauty which is based in the quality of our character.)