Meet the King’s student in the running for Miss Birmingham

‘It’s a bit about how you look, but more about being a complete person’

We might still be constantly bombarded with adverts promising to tell us how we can glow like J-Lo, get a bum like Kim K and get a flat stomach in two weeks, but things are slowly changing. This year, the Miss World pageants have decided to modernise and unveiled their new slogan: “Beauty with a Purpose”. We met with Miss Birmingham Finalist 2016, and King’s Classics undergrad Saara Salem to find out more.

Before my interview questions hit and shit got real

Hi Saara. So how did you get into the Miss Birmingham Final?

I submitted an online form, in which I submitted photos of myself, before receiving an over-the-phone interview from the judges. I was asked how I would define my characteristics, whether I had any talents, and most importantly, why I would be a good ambassador for Birmingham. There were over 850 applicants, so I feel very lucky to be one of the 40 finalists.

Do you find your uni work suffers because of your pagaent commitments?

Not really – the competition is broken up into rounds, so it’s easier to juggle everything. Plus I was Director of the Greek Play this year, which involved a lot of work, so uni probably suffered more then than now.

How is your social life?

Still just as busy as ever – I’m on the Classics committee so I have to go to all of the events, and they don’t take any excuse to skip an event.

Showing she can get jiggy with it

Do you have a daily routine?

Not really, the only thing I never skimp on is sleep – I’m always in bed by midnight and up by 7.

What’s your typical diet like?

A lot of sweets and Coke, which means my teeth suffer, but I walk everywhere, dance constantly on nights out and do yoga every day to combat my diet issues.

Do you still drink alcohol?

I did Dry January this year up to Freshers which means that it’s easier to cut down on alcohol, so I’ve gradually been drinking less this year.

Being a student living in London, do you have any tips for keeping costs down but still maintaining a beauty regime?

Well, I use basic products for general skincare – Coconut Oil for moisturiser, then E45 cream, which takes away greasiness but keeps the skin moisturised. Important make-up like foundation, concealer and lipstick, particularly for when I’m in the Final, is something I splash out on. Yves Saint Laurent is my favourite for all three, as their products last ages so I only need to order them max three times a year.

Name a beauty product that you couldn’t live without.

Lollipops Paris: Délicieuse is my must-have because it tastes like cupcakes and lasts for a long time too.

Have you found any of your uni friends have judged you for being in a beauty competition?

I think mainly people are surprised, but I think what’s great about the Miss World competitions is that it doesn’t fit in with perceptions of beauty pagaents that most people have. I think everyone has pre-conceptions about what it means to be in a beauty competition, so that’s why it has surprised my friends. The only awkward experience I’ve had is with one of my friends from Birmingham, whose sister’s girlfriend entered but didn’t get in, so I try to avoid bringing it up around her.

She even has a t-shirt

As we know, this year the message is all about ‘Beauty with a Purpose’, so what are you doing to put this into action?

I’ve always done lots of charity work, being involved with the Kenya Orphan Project, Islamic Relief, and most recently KCL Pink Week for Breast Cancer as I have organised their opening night at Sway Bar on March 15. For Miss Birmingham, I am also supporting ‘Beauty with a Purpose’, which is an umbrella organisation at the heart of the Miss World ethos, which sjupports charities for disadvantaged childen around the world. I have organised a charity night at The Roxy on Tuesday March 8 and if you quote the code word ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ at the door, you can get a free shot.

Do you feel that the diversity of Birmingham’s multicultural community is being represented in the competition?

There are 14 non-white finalists, and I think I’m the only Arab and black mix. Birmingham is an incredibly diverse city, but due to white-dominated cultural norms I did think twice before applying, but I am so glad that I did.

Wearing Virgos Lounge, loving life

All of the contestants are able-bodied – what kind of message do you think this generates for the competition?

I was really surprised about that as well, and of course disabled people are in no way less qualified to be an ambassador for the City of Birmingham. It all depends on who applies – I can’t comment on that, as I don’t know who else applied, but I am sure that the Judges have made a fair decision based on the applicants.

Do you have a message that you want to promote if you are voted Miss Birmingham?

I grew up in Halesowen which is an under-priviledged part of Birmingham, and I only had access to the local education system, attending King Edward VI Five Ways for Sixth Form, yet I now study at one of the most prestigious unis in London. So I think if I can do it, anyone can, and I hope that by young girls seeing me they will take a chance and do something outside of their comfort zone.


Come meet Saara #MissBirminghamFinalist2016

To vote for Saara, text MISS BIRMINGHAM32 to 63333. Also, come along to the Roxy tonight (March 8) and quote Beauty With A Purpose. You can also support KCL Pink Week on March 15 at Sway: tickets are available now.