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Model’s passionate aims after making finals of Miss England

Mehak Chandel is a Miss England finalist from London. Here she tells Pukaar how she’s planning to use her platform to promote inclusivity as well as better mental health awareness within the South Asian community.

Miss Chandel is set to compete in the finals of Miss England on May 22, after impressing the judges with her strong passions and dreams for the future – which include opening a mental health clinic, specifically for marginalised people. The 23-year-old has based her campaign for the Miss England crown, on inspiring people to go for their dreams, no matter what their ethnicity or skin type.

Picture: Pukaar News

“I’m someone who’s always stood for inclusivity and diversity and to me, this is a means of getting that message out there. That’s one of the biggest things to me. My aim is always to inspire people – the same way I was inspired to do this,” she said.

“If you become Miss England, your status becomes so globally recognised that you can get out a lot of different messages on a lot of different platforms and my aim is to inspire young girls, who may be Indian like me. My main thing is to inspire inclusivity in different skin tones and this has been my campaign from the beginning.

“We have had a British-Indian Miss England before, however I still think there will be some sort of backlash and negativity,” she added. “It is getting better, the world is becoming more diverse but people are still not as accepting as they should be…”

Mehak is also aiming to normalise having acne, something she herself struggles with.

“I’m a model, I have acne and that’s something that I really want to normalise in our industry,” she revealed. “In day to day life, you see that people have acne – no one cares. But when you’re a model it seems to be a problem, and I think having that title as a Miss England finalist, young girls will see that I have acne so it will inspire them to go ahead, follow their dreams and do what they want to do.”

Although Mehak was born and grew up in London, her family is from India. She currently works as a special needs teacher, and has been modelling for the past four years. However, her long term goal is to become a Psychologist.

She is passionate about helping to improve mental health services in the UK.

“The NHS is amazing, but the mental health system within it isn’t always up to par – especially for our community. Mental health is very taboo within the Asian community – it’s not taken as seriously as it should be and one day I’d like to open my own practice, specifically for marginalised people,” revealed Mehak, who has a degree in Criminology.

Mehak’s journey to becoming a Miss England finalist started last July when she entered the competition as a ‘bare face model’. She was selected as a wildcard and given a pass straight through to the semi-finals, which were held last month. 

Asked why she entered, she said: “I saw Jessica’s win last year and it seemed really inspiring to me. (She’s an aerospace engineer, who is using her platform to encourage girls into STEM subjects).

“I decided it was something that I really wanted to experience and have a go at.

“It’s been amazing – the most empowering, supportive thing I’ve ever done. I know people have watched ‘Miss Congeniality’ and movies like that and think there’s going to be this cattiness between contestants, but it’s nothing like that,” she went on to explain.

“Being back stage with all the girls actually made me less nervous – knowing that all these women are in the same position as me really made a difference. At the end of the day, we all have this aim – to make the world a better place with our title.”

As part of her campaign, Mehak is raising money for ‘Balls to Cancer’ – a charity for men’s cancer awareness. She has already raised £700 of her £1,000 goal.

The finals of the competition will be held next month in Wolverhampton. Taking part has increased Mehak’s confidence considerably, she told Pukaar.  

“Being up on that stage, you think it’s going to be the most nerve wracking thing but you get up there and you see all these faces and you think ‘wow, this is me, I’ve done this.’ It’s something that really builds up that confidence in you – I’m thinking, ‘if I can do this – I can do anything,’” she revealed.

“Being in the competition has opened a lot of doors. Even if you don’t win, the team in Miss England is so fantastic. They give you loads of opportunities to visit fashion shows, festivals, interviews. Your connections open up and it definitely helps a lot…

“If I don’t win, I’d still like to continue my campaign, I’d still continue modelling,” she added. “But it would be an amazing experience to go through – something that I’d treasure forever. 

“Having made the finals, I think my life will be quite different now,” she added. “Even having that title is an amazing thing to have, and I would just like to use that platform to continue pushing and striving forward, setting new goals and having new challenges.”

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