Miss Universe's #ConfidentlyBeautiful Hashtag Is Sending An Important Message — PHOTOS

At the Miss Universe preliminaries on Dec. 16, many contestants shared no-makeup selfies on Twitter with the hashtag #ConfidentlyBeautiful to encourage women to embrace and be proud of their natural beauty, sans makeup. According to Bellfast Telegraph, it was the current Miss Universe Paulina Vega from Colombia who sparked the social media movement after she asked this year's contestants to show how beautiful they look without pageant makeup. She tweeted a photo of herself with the caption, "Every #MissUniverse is #ConfidentlyBeautiful. Are you? Show us your no-makeup selfies."

While the Miss Universe Organization has spent the past 60 years trying to be a platform for young women who want to become advocates for positive change, I think most of us can agree that the majority of women or feminine people in this world cannot necessarily relate to certain images it puts out there. Thanks to only very slender women often sporting long manes and traditionally accepted features ever being showcased on stage, many of us have likely felt that pageants such as this promote body negative feelings, poor self-image, and unrealistic beauty standards.

Although this might be true in many respects, it doesn't necessarily mean that the contestants themselves believe in all this messaging. So perhaps in an effort to go against the previous stereotypes and judgments that anti-pageant critics may bring up, the Miss Universe contestants took part in the #ConfidentlyBeautiful campaign, where they appeared natural and bare-faced to help promote the idea that feeling comfortable in one's natural skin is important. Since the pageant calls for women to be done-up, the contestants showing off some other sides of themselves was, actually, quite a beautiful thing.

The message of these selfies is such a positive one. After all, a woman can be just as beautiful when she's dressed to the nines with a flawless blow-out as when she's sitting in worn-in pajamas without mascara on.

Of course, although this shift shows open-mindedness and a step in the right direction, the pageant itself still has a long way to go in terms of body positivity and moving past a narrow-minded idea of what beauty is. For example, we'd be hard pressed to see a woman above a size 6 walking across the stage, and the fact that there is still a swimsuit competition to rate a contestant on the attractiveness of her body can feel extremely off-putting to many of us.

But let's give where credit is due and admit that steps like this need to be taken if we're ever going to see more dramatic and necessary change. The Miss Universe pageant isn't swinging open the door for inclusivity just yet, but at least some of its contestants are trying to open the door just a little. If not for the themselves, then at least for the women at home watching.

While we wait to see bigger strides taken in the upcoming years that promote a healthier body image by the pageant world at large, here are body positive steps that pageants and pageant contestants have taken in the past.

1. When Kirsten Haglund, Miss America 2008, Called Out A Pageant's Body Image Problem

When Haglund was in the audience for Miss Universe 2013, she was shocked to see how thin the contestants were who glided across the stage. Not only that, but she was angry that the pageant only kept celebrating one type of woman, when the point of Miss Universe should arguably be about celebrating the diversity of women.

She said in an interview with Huffington Post Live, "I would love to see pageants really take the lead and encourage that every woman is unique and special in her own way because she's different. That you can have a different platform, a different evening gown, a different career path, and we all don't have to have the same body type." I'm right there with her.

2. Miss Jamaica Dared To Stand Out In 2015

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

In a group of long, Victoria's Secret-esque locks, Miss Jamaica's haircut stood out, her sassy short crop making a statement. When questioned about her choice in the introduction of the pageant, she happily answered, "I am just representing myself with what I see best. That is what beauty overall is about. There is no standard look to anybody." Way to break the mold!

3. Miss World Cancelled Its Swimsuit Competition

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Back in 2014, the owners of the Miss World pageant cancelled the swimsuit portion of the competition, explaining that it didn't really have a purpose in the mission of the pageant. In an interview with Elle, chairwoman Julia Morley elaborated. "I really... don't need to see women just walking up and down in bikinis. It doesn't do anything for the woman. And it doesn't do anything for any of us," she said. "I don't care if someone has a bottom two inches bigger than someone else's. We are really not looking at her bottom. We are really listening to her speak."

While strides are being made to ensure pageants are celebrating diversity and strong women wanting to make a change, Miss Universe and pageantry still have a ways to go. But at least we can say some folks are trying. Here's to next year taking even bigger steps.

Images: lauraspoya/Twitter (1); Huffington Post Live (1)