If headlines are to be believed, the pageant world is becoming more inclusive, body-positive, and empowering as a whole — but former Miss United Continents U.K., Zoiey Smale, thinks there is plenty more work to be done.
The 28-year-old pageant winner gave back her crown after just two months due to being body-shamed by the organization.
“After being asked to lose weight and go on a diet plan for an international competition, I have withdrawn,” Smale, who is a size ten, wrote on Facebook. “Some of you may think this is cowardly, however I don’t think it is… right to have my face representing a pageant ethos I do not believe in. I will be handing back my crown and wish the new title holder the very best of luck.”
Actually, the move is the opposite of cowardly — Smale’s decision is brave and indicates just how strong her moral character is.
“It’s shocks me more than anything that there are still pageants out there who only view size 00 girls as role models. I love me and will not change for anyone. My body has carried me through my 20+ years of being on this earth, allowed me to have a career I am very proud of, carry a child and the best thing of all, my body has never given up on me… If a pageant doesn’t want to utilise my capabilities because I am a size 10 then it’s their loss.”
The pageant winner was stunned when she was told via phone call to get slimmer.
“‘They want you to go on a diet plan and they want you to lose as much weight as possible for the finals,’” Smale remembers the national director saying. “I was like, ‘Pardon?’ It’s one of those things in the 21st century you don’t actually expect people to be that blunt,” she told the Daily Mail.
In handing back her crown, Smale is holding Miss United Continents responsible for their body-shaming comments and calling for a shift in the pageant industry to value women for more than their clothing size.