Every year since 2016, Miss Universe has held a makeup-free photo shoot ahead of the competition.
Photographer Benjamin Askinas told Insider that the shoot inspires both the women and their fans.
The 69th Miss Universe competition will be held on May 16 in Hollywood, Florida.
Miss Universe has done a makeup-free photo shoot with contestants for the last five years.
"The first no-makeup photo shoot was in 2016, it was so much fun," photographer Benjamin Askinas told Insider. "And it caused an online uproar that I don't think we expected — people loved it. People were like, 'This is super empowering,' and it's kind of become a priority now. It's definitely my favorite photo shoot."
Askinas said a group of contestants are always randomly selected for the shoot and are explicitly told that they can't wear any makeup.
"A lot of them, at first, are really nervous," he added. "A lot of these girls have a lot of fans and they're accustomed to a lot of criticism on social media. So we let them talk about it with each other, and really quickly they understand that it's really about confidence."
"This shoot, I feel, really tests their confidence and kind of trains them," he added. "And I hope that can translate onstage and during their performances."
Photographer Benjamin Askinas believes that the makeup-free photo shoot is also important for the contestants' fans.
"We hope that it's an eye-opening experience not just for the women, but for their young fans," he said.
"Young girls looking up to them, maybe they can't relate to all these layers of makeup, but they can see them with their pimples, or their blemishes and their wrinkles, and just see themselves in the contestants and hopefully be inspired like, 'Oh, I can be that, I can be anything. I look just like her.'"
Maria Thattil is representing Australia.
Maria Thattil, 28, is an accredited life coach with a psychology degree and a master's degree in management, according to the Miss Universe website. She had never competed in a national or international pageant before winning the Miss Australia title.
Thattil currently volunteers for the United Nations Association of Australia and calls herself a "fierce activist for inclusivity, equality, and empowerment." She also had a podcast, called "Mind With Me," that explores a "myriad of critical and complex topics." She hopes to become the shortest winner in Miss Universe history.
Hillary-Ann Williams is representing Barbados.
Hillary Ann-Williams, 25, is a survivor of gender-based violence and has become a "very vocal advocate in the fight to end the cycle of abuse for all women," according to the Miss Universe website.
Ann-Williams, who is biracial and grew up in both Barbados and Canada, has worked with the United Nations Women's Secretariat in Barbados. She discusses gender-based violence issues "at every chance she is given."
Lenka Nemer is representing Bolivia.
Lenka Nemer, 24, is an international affairs graduate who can communicate in seven different languages. She is currently working to "advocate against hunger and violence around the world," according to the Miss Universe website.
Nemer, who struggled with food security as a child, created "Huertos Urbanos Bolivia," which is aimed at providing "education about urban cultivation and ways to eradicate hunger." She also hopes to use her platform to help stop gender violence in Bolivia.
Kossinda Angele is representing Cameroon.
Kossinda Angele, 28, has a master's degree in finance and provides free math lessons to underprivileged children in her hometown, according to the Miss Universe website.
Angele became an advocate for the education of young and disadvantaged women in Cameroon after witnessing how girls as young as 12 were forced into marriage in her tribe. She hopes that offering free education "will create a new generation of empowered and confident young girls with better opportunities."
In her spare time, Angele acts and produces a comedy series on YouTube.
Jiaxin Sun is representing China.
Jiaxin Sun, 23, has a bachelor's degree in management and works as a mentor for a youth leadership academy, according to the Miss Universe website.
Sun also launched the "Mother-Made Club" after visiting the Lijin village in southern China. Her organization helps women living in Mountain Wuzhishan to sell handmade products so they can make their own money to "support themselves and their families."
Aisha Harumi Tochigi is representing Japan.
Aisha Harumi Tochigi, 25, is currently an activist for malaria eradication and also works for campaigns supporting orphanages and women's rights, according to the Miss Universe website.
Tochigi, who is Japanese and Ghanaian, lived in extreme poverty and contracted malaria in Africa when she was a child. She later faced discrimination in Japan and now hosts discussions on racism and biracial identity.
Thuzar Wint Lwin is representing Myanmar.
Thuzar Wint Lwin, 22, has a diploma in tourism and hospitality management and is currently studying English, according to the Miss Universe website. She also works as a professional model and beauty blogger.
Lwin recently underwent surgery to remove tumors from her breast. She now works with local breast cancer foundations "to support patients and bring awareness to the cause."
Bianca Lorena Tirsin is representing Romania.
Bianca Lorena Tirsin, 22, is a business administration student and currently runs her own online shop that "promotes confidence with the use of oral health care products," according to the Miss Universe website. She first started her own makeup studio when she was just 16, selling all her furniture so that she could launch it.
Tirsin, who has traveled to almost 40 countries, is currently an ambassador for Cetatea Voluntarilor Arad, through which she helps rehabilitate hospitals, organize events for children with Down syndrome, and fundraise for impoverished areas in her community. She has won the organization's "Volunteer of the Year" award every year since 2017.
Alina Sanko is representing Russia.
Alina Sanko, 22, has a degree in architecture and design and is currently getting her master's in television, according to the Miss Universe website.
Sanko is a painter and is preparing to open her own art exhibit. She provides art therapy and craft classes for children, and also volunteers for various foundations that "support children with serious diseases."
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