A contestant for the finals of Miss Swimsuit UK wants people to know that pageants can inspire people beyond just physical appearance.

Yollanda Musa, 27, from Willow Lane, believes that despite her insecurities sparked when comparing herself to other models and pageant contestants, her self-confidence grew when she realised the accepting diversity of women at the pageant – of all different ages, shapes, sizes and ethnicities.

The Miss Swimsuit UK finalist grew up infatuated with the world of modelling when watching America’s Next Top Model, she loved the competitiveness shown as it reminded her of her own competitive nature.

Ms Musa first began venturing into the world of beauty pageants and modelling at 22, shortly after graduating from university with an Economics degree.

She said: “I was a bit nervous when I first started modelling. I come from a very traditional African family and it was important that I finished my education first before I did anything.

“From there it took a while to identify myself as a model, I’d be doing these pageants for fun to enjoy myself.”

Despite starting late into the industry, she didn’t see her age and her younger competitors as an obstacle - in her words, she “chose” to go into education first.

Her world hasn’t become infatuated with just beauty and maintaining her physique for modelling contracts. As she continues to pursue her modelling career, she continues to utilise her Economics degree by being her own manager, financially controlling her mother’s swimwear and fashion line, and also working as a business support manager at Watford General Hospital.

After winning the ‘wild card vote’ in Miss Swimsuit UK on March 23, she was automatically qualified to the finals. Entering the competition is important to her, as she believes that the pageant is more than a superficial evaluation on people’s appearance.

She said: “I think people don’t really realise; they’re looking for a lot more than who you look like. For one, you must campaign on something that you’re passionate on.

“So, my campaign was about encouraging women with confidence, and helping young women with things like entrepreneurship, I mentored the young girls.

“It’s through pageants that you can really encourage people. The contestants that really put in this passion to inspire are the ones who do best in the competition.”

Ms Musa believes that this social progression, to not just objectify women but to help make a difference, is reflected in the changing acceptance of various races into the industry.

The finalist added: “I think mostly, racial issues in the modelling world is a thing of the past. I’ve come across some hairstylists that are unable to do my natural hair, but they’ve been trying to step it up and find diverse people.

“It’s evolved over the years, becoming more mixed and giving more equal opportunities to models and I’m quite happy to see that it has.”

The Miss Swimsuit UK finals will take place on September 7 at Spinningfields, Manchester.