It’s been a big month for beauty queen Shirin Akter Shela, who was crowned Miss Bangladesh at the end of October.
In doing so, the stunning contestant becomes the first person from a Muslim-majority country in South Asia to compete for the title of Miss Universe.
There have been other contestants in the past (such as Lebanese-American Rima Fakih) but from the Middle East or in Africa.
She was crowned by Bollywood legend Sushmita Sen, who won both Miss World and Miss Universe in 1994 (Priyanka Chopra won Miss World in 2000).
The contest, held in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, saw Shirin beat off competition from beauty queens Alisha Islam and Jessia Islam.
Shirin wowed judges with her poise and brains as a third-year physics student at the University of Dhaka.
Her dad is a member of the Border Guard Bangladesh and Shirin grew up watching him fight for the country, a patriotic zeal she developed too.
During the pageant, Shirin, from Thakurgaon revealed that her dad was a ‘great inspiration’ to her.
She added that she would also work for the ‘betterment’ of her country which begins with winning Miss Universe Bangladesh.
She has been making the South Asian country proud, having been declared the best female model in the Face of Bangladesh 2019 contest.
In 2018, she participated in Miss Bangladesh World and was among the top ten contestants. This year, she also represented Bangladesh at Face of Asia 2019, which took place in Seoul, South Korea.
The path to Miss Universe began in July 2019 when more than 12,000 participants vied for the coveted title of Miss Universe Bangladesh (the contest that needs to be won in respective countries to have a shot at the main title).
This was followed by a three-month boot camp.
Now Shirin will be an ambassador for Bangladesh at the 68th edition of Miss Universe, taking place in Atlanta, Georgia on 8 December.
In this final competition, top models from 130 countries are going to participate.
Shirin’s historic win meant a lot to Bangladeshi and other Asian folks who took to social media to congratulate her. One person tweeted: ‘Hats off Shirin’ while another said: ‘how amazing is this?’.
Another wrote: ‘After 68 years of Miss Universe, we’re finally getting Bangladesh represented in the competition. I’m so proud.’
Good luck to Shirin and all the other finalists.