Zoiey Smale was scheduled to compete in Ecuador next month. Instead she’ll be watching on her TV.
The 28-year-old, who won the Miss United Kingdom pageant in June, handed back her crown after allegedly being told she needed to lose weight. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Smalls said she received a call from the director of Miss United Continents explaining that the Ecuadorian organizers wanted her to slim down. “She said to me ‘They want you to go on a diet plan and they want you to lose as much weight as possible for the finals,’” Smale told the Daily Mail. “I was like ‘Pardon?’ It was one of those things, in the 21st century you don’t actually expect people to be that blunt.”
Smale opened up about her decision to withdraw in a Facebook post published earlier in August. “It saddens me that even still, there there are pageant directors who believe you must be skinny to be beautiful,” wrote the size six industry veteran.
In her post, Smale noted that this isn’t the first time she’s been body shamed. The mom of one revealed she participated in “rogue” competitions where they “insist you eat less, parade around in a bikini for a few days and sit at the arm of a man over dinner whilst pushing an olive around a plate.”
Smale wants the pageant to know it’s their loss. “I love me and will not change for anyone,” she wrote. “All in all we never know when our time on this earth is up . . . so love yourself, eat a bit of cake and laugh until your belly hurts.”
Smale follows Miss Iceland Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir, who dropped out of a pageant in October 2016 after being told by staff she needed to lose weight for the finals. Jónsdóttir posted her handwritten goodbye letter on Instagram. “I am a very strong woman, but sometimes my strength isn’t enough,” she began in the lengthy note. “Your staff told me I had to lose weight for the finals because I have too much fat on me and also too big shoulders.”
Her post received applause from around the world. “The world needs more gestures like yours, where women stand up for our health, self-respect and self-love,” wrote on Instagram follower. Added another: “BRAVO QUEEN!!! You are my hero.”
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