Miss United Kingdom has handed back her crown and withdrawn from an international beauty pageant after being told to lose weight by competition organisers, she says.
Zoiey Smale from Nottinghamshire was due to compete in the Miss United Continents pageant, which will take place in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in September 2017. In a Facebook post, Smale says she has decided to withdraw from the competition after she was “asked to lose weight and go on a diet plan.”
“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,” wrote Smale. “I will be handing back my crown and wish the new title holder the very best of luck.”
Smale told the MailOnline that the national director of the Miss United Continents pageant said the Ecuadorian directors wanted Smale to lose weight.
“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.’ I was like, ‘pardon?'” said Smale. The organisers of Miss United Continents did not respond immediately when Mashable contacted them for comment.
“It was one of those things, in the 21st century you don’t actually expect people to be that blunt,” she continued. In her Facebook post, Smale said she’d been in the industry for over 10 years and it “saddens” her that “even still, there are pageant directors who believe you must be skinny to be beautiful.”
“Let me tell you something, pageant girls are more than just a number on a clothing tag. Real queens empower others, are intelligent and help communities come together,” she wrote.
Smale added that she’s “not here to name and shame” but she wanted to “be honest” with her supporters as to why she won’t be continuing in the competition. “If a pageant doesn’t want to utilise my capabilities because I am a size 10 [US size 6] then it’s their loss,” she wrote.
Smale said she loves herself 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,” she wrote.
Smale isn’t the only beauty pageant queen to be told to lose weight in the run up to an international competition. In late 2016, Miss Iceland quit an international beauty pageant after being told by staff “to lose weight for the finals” and that she had “too much fat” on her. Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir posted a handwritten “goodbye letter” on Instagram, explaining her reasons for dropping out of the Miss Grand International event in Las Vegas.
Smale said she’d had “some really amazing experiences” in the pageant industry, from which she will now be retiring.
“I don’t believe anyone should be able to manipulate you and dull your sparkle,” she said.