This past June, 28-year-old mom-of-one Zoiey Smale was crowned Miss United Kingdom. Zoiey, who has been competing in pageants for 10 years, was no doubt thrilled at the honor, but her reign didn’t last long. Just a few weeks later, Zoiey got a phone call that changed everything.
The call was from her national director. Zoiey was preparing to compete in the Miss United Continents competition in Ecuador next month. Her national director was calling to pass along some “feedback” from the international director.
Zoiey was prepared to hear some helpful advice. Instead, she was told the international director wanted her to go on a “diet plan” and— shockingly— “lose as much weight as possible.”
Zoiey—who struggled with a severe eating disorder at age 16—was shaken. After thinking on it carefully for two weeks, she decided not compete in the Miss United Continents pageant. Not only that, she officially forfeited her crown. She took to Facebook to explain her decision in a heartfelt post, edited for length below:
It shocks me more than anything that there are still pageants out there who only view size 00 girls as role models. Pageant girls are more than just a number on a clothing tag. Real queens empower others, are intelligent and help communities come together.
Zoiey warns girls against “rogue competitions” wherein contestants are bullied and treated horribly as opposed to more established pageants.
Honey let me tell you, this is NOT a pageant. I was branded ‘fat’ because I am size 10. I actually believed that I was so disgusting that no one would ever love me. How sad is that?
After being asked to lose weight and go on a diet plan for an international competition, I have withdrawn. Some of you may think this is cowardly, however I don’t think it is the 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.
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. I have had some really amazing experiences through being in the pageant industry and made some lifelong friends and memories. However I don’t believe anyone should be able to manipulate you and dull your sparkle.
Zoiey never expected for her post to go viral, but her body positive message has been met with an abundance of praise and gratitude.
What an incredible example of strength and true beauty!
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