- Every year since 2016, Miss Universe has held a makeup-free photo shoot ahead of the competition.
- Photographer Benjamin Askinas told Insider that the shoot inspires both the women and their fans.
- The 70th Miss Universe competition will be held on December 12 in Eilat, Israel.
Askinas said there’s a lot of pressure for pageant queens to always be “on,” and he believes the photos can be empowering for them as well.
“Many are constantly made-up while on tour with the show,” he continued. “This shoot is an opportunity for them to embrace their beauty and step outside of their comfort zone. I’m just really excited to be a part of that.”
“Not only did they all choose to participate, but they were so excited to be a part of something that helps break the pageantry and beauty standards,” he told Insider.
And Askinas said he could see “an immediate physical change” in the women after showing them the first few images from their photo shoots.
“The way they hold themselves and view themselves is more self-assuring,” he said. “They walk away feeling more confident in their beauty, and it’s my favorite part of doing this shoot.”
“These women, in particular, are in the spotlight and pressured to be ‘perfect.'” he added. “This shoot gives the delegates an opportunity to show a different side of themselves and their personalities. To see someone posting unfiltered photos today is to be different. People stop and take notice.”
Garcia has also been practicing ballet for 12 years and currently works as an international model.
Aflalo also has a technical degree in fashion and dressmaking. In her spare time, the pageant queen organizes garbage clean-up projects across the Dominican Republic, according to her Miss Universe bio.
Commodore dreams of opening a dance school one day. She says in her Miss Universe bio that she “aspires to be a pillar of hope for children who are forced to endure the ghastly nightmares of poverty in her community.”
Figueroa is a regional champion in Taekwondo and recently received her first-degree black belt. She has also competed on “MasterChef Chile” and recently launched Volunteers for Children, enrolling people who are willing to provide free lessons to their communities.
Banna mentors underprivileged children at Care Corner Singapore, where she provides them with emotional support and teaches them interpersonal skills.
Seifer has traveled to 17 countries on three different continents but has a fear of flying. She is committed to “the environment, dogs, bullying, and mental illnesses.”
Materán is a spokesperson for HIV/AIDS prevention and gender equality. The pageant queen has also been a lifelong advocate for the rights of people with Down syndrome, inspired by her brother who was born with the condition.
Benhalima has also lived in Paris, Singapore, and Barcelona, cultivating “a worldly view on life based on gratitude and acceptance.” She has worked with various organizations in Morocco to advocate for education and underprivileged communities.