DUBAI: Miss Universe Lebanon 2023 Maya Aboul Hosn will represent Lebanon at the 72nd Miss Universe pageant in El Salvador on Nov. 18.
Behind all the glitz and glamor, who is she? Arab News spoke to the beauty-queen-hopeful ahead of her Miss Universe debut.
Born and raised in a small village in Lebanon, Aboul Hosn has always been drawn to the spotlight.
“Ever since I was young I would use my parents flip-phone to take photos and make short videos documenting my days. Back then there was no social media so I was living in my own world, but when I was 19-years-old, social media took off and I decided to pursue it more seriously,” she said.
“I always knew I wanted to represent my country in some way, and when the opportunity to be a part of Miss Lebanon came, I couldn’t say no,” Aboul Hosn said.
Working two jobs while attending university full time proved to be a challenge for Aboul Hosn, but she had a goal and wanted to prove herself.
“I graduated university in 2019 and it was very difficult for me to find a job at first and in October there was a Lebanese revolution, which led us to go into an economic crisis and a few months later … COVID-19 happened,” she said.
“When COVID hit, many Lebanese people moved to the mountains; that’s when I started to really document my day-to-day life on Instagram and people loved it. I was able to accumulate more than 100,000 followers before participating in Miss Lebanon,” she said.
After being named first runner-up in the Miss Lebanon 2022 competition, Maya joined the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International channel as a morning-show host.
She told Arab News about her least-favorite aspect of the pageant process: “The idea that judges rate our looks, our answers and our beauty, I don’t like this part of pageants because there are no standards for beauty. I believe there is no right or wrong. There’s no pretty or ugly. But things are changing. The standards for beauty pageants are different now. There’s no age limit. They teach women how to embrace their uniqueness. And that’s why I want to inspire girls to always embrace — their uniqueness. You are pretty just the way you are. You don’t have to be perfect.
“Most people say that we only have beauty and not the brain. That is absolutely wrong. We are all educated, we all have plans for the future. That’s why we are here, to use our platforms for change and to spread awareness,” she said.
Aboul Hoson hopes to use her platform to be a role model in the Arab world.
“My main cause is to be a role model for every girl. I come from a very humble family. I’m not a wealthy princess. I worked hard to achieve what I want. And that’s what I want every girl to know. If you work hard, you can achieve your dreams and goals,” she said.
With the pageant just around the corner, Aboul Hoson said that she has started a rigorous preparation routine.
“I’m so excited but there is a big responsibility because I’m representing my country. So I’m working very hard and I will give them the best that I can,” she said.
“I started to eat very healthy, because it’s good for my shape and my skin. I wake up and I eat my breakfast and then I do some sports. I then have three hours of public speaking and a life coach daily. I work on my cause with another instructor, my catwalk and my wardrobe for Miss Universe. It’s very busy but I’m excited.”
A big part of the Miss Universe show is the national-dress section of the competition, and the Lebanese-hopeful shared some details about her outfit.
“The dress was designed by a Lebanese designer; his name is Elio Moussallem. It’s inspired by the (regal) Lebanese traditional dresses, the Lebanese landscape. And our symbol is the Lebanese cedar. The cedar is a crown and a symbol of power and dominance, strength and bravery,” she said.
With only three Arab countries competing in the Miss Universe pageant this year — the other contestants are Miss Bahrain and Miss Egypt — Aboul Hosn asked the Arab world for support.
“I really need every woman, every person in the Arab world, to support me because I need it. I’m Arab, I’m not only representing my country, I’m representing the Arab world. I’m really doing this not only for me, but for my country and for the Arab world,” she said.