Miss United Continents UK has decided to hand back her crown after being told to lose weight in order to compete at an international beauty pageant.
Zoiey Smale, a 28-year-old who won the title in June, said in a Facebook post earlier this month that she was “asked to lose weight and go on a diet plan” ahead of September’s Miss United Continents pageant, prompting her to give up her title.
“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,” she wrote. “I will be handing back my crown and wish the new title holder the very best of luck.”
PEOPLE has reached out to the Miss United Continents UK pageant for comment.
The beauty queen, who says she’s a UK size 10 (equivalent to a US size 6), explained that she had retired from pageants due to the pressures of the competition, only to come back and win the Miss United Continents UK title. However, she was dismayed to find that attitudes in the industry had not changed.
“It was supposed to be a positive experience as pageants have really changed in the last decade,” Smale explained. “I love seeing queens on my news feeds promoting giving through charity work, educating themselves, eating well and enjoying life. Those women know how hard it is to be a queen and run a normal life along side everything else. It saddens me that even still, there are pageant directors who believe you must be skinny to be beautiful.”
Smale said that she loves her body and is not willing to change it to fit another person’s ideals.
“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 said. “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.”
“If a pageant doesn’t want to utilise my capabilities because I am a size 10 then it’s their loss,” she added. “It’s a case of right girl, wrong pageant.”
On Wednesday, Smale addressed the overwhelming support she received following her announcement.
“When I made the decision to hand over my crown, I never thought I would have the backing of thousands of people,” she wrote on Facebook. “I woke up to so many of you contacting me with your stories and kind words of support. I have tried to personally thank all of you but there aren’t enough hours in the day. Knowing that you have the support from the masses means more than any title could bring.”
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Smale continued, “At the end of the day a crown is a crown and girls that chase that are doing it all wrong. Chase being rose between the thorns. Be the change and always help others. I am so thankful and thanks to you all, have changed this negative situation into a positive one. If I can make a difference to just one persons life, I will be a happy woman!”