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‘Swimsuit model contests empower women – they must not be scrapped’

5:44 am, 23rd June 2018

Here, Poppy Haskell, who was crowned the winner of Miss Swimsuit UK, tells Sky News why she believes the event is empowering for women and that Miss America organisers are wrong.

I strongly disagree with anyone who would call swimsuit modelling contests sexist.

No one is forced into the competition and for the women taking part, it’s empowering.

It’s sad that Miss America organisers have given into peer pressure by removing the swimsuit portion of their event.

It was the same situation when Formula One stopped using grid girls – I should know because I was one of them!

That job helped me pay the rent and allowed me to travel the world. It was an amazing opportunity.

I met a lot of the F1 drivers and none of them had no problem with the grid girls. It was never a distraction and it added some “razzle dazzle” to race days.

When I was growing up it was never my intention to be a model. I studied journalism at university but I soon realised an office job was not my calling.

My move into the modelling industry came out of the blue.

I was 18 years old and performing in a ballet show when someone from an agency spotted me. It led to some part-time modelling work but I have to admit I wasn’t making a lot of money.

I first heard about Miss Swimsuit UK through a close friend who had entered in 2015.

It opened up a lot of opportunities for her so, in 2017, I decided to take the plunge and give the competition a go.

My fellow contestants were from all sorts of backgrounds and there were plenty of different personalities.

One woman worked in the navy, another worked in the pharmaceutical industry. Some women were shy, others were more confident.

I took part in catwalks, wearing different swimsuits and answered questions from a presenter to give an impression of my personality.

For me, the competition was a way of showcasing my gym work and healthy eating. The whole event was a celebration of the female form and for all the contestants, the event was about empowering each other.

I didn’t feel I was being judged in a negative way. I found it very liberating being in a swimsuit and people had worked hard to be able to enter the competition.

To be named the winner was incredible. It was a massive boost to my confidence and it turned out to be the catalyst for my modelling career, which went into overdrive.

I’m now modelling all over the world and hoping to move into TV presenting and producing.

My parents – who both have corporate jobs – are immensely proud of me and my boyfriend has always been extremely supportive.

You have to set boundaries and I said to him from the start: “This is my passion – take it or leave it.”

I feel like I’ve finally found my niche in the industry. Having curves is great for swimsuit modelling.

I’m not skinny and tall like a fashion model and I would never work as a glamour model because I wouldn’t ever pose naked.

Unfortunately though I’ve had a few bad experiences in the industry.

There have been instances where male photographers have tried push me further than I wanted to go. It’s definitely an issue in the industry.

Thankfully I’m a strong-minded person who will always stand my ground. I think it’s great that, with the #MeToo movement, more women are being vocal about standing up to this kind of behaviour.

Women get demonised for all kind of things. But if all things are equal, where are the calls for men to stop performing topless in Magic Mike Live?