Paola Torrente may have won over the judges during the Miss Italy pageant, where she placed second overall, but she’s facing body shaming over her curvy shape on social media.
The 22-year-old is a size 14, and her hourglass figure created an uproar on social media after she was named the runner-up.
The mom of the third place finisher, Viviana Vogliacco, reportedly said Torrente should “take part in the Plus Size Miss Italy contest,” rather than the general pageant.
But Torrente is unfazed by the criticism, and says she’s completely happy in her body.
“I embrace my curves…and I’m never ashamed of them,” Torrente tells the Daily Mail. “I want to tell young women to accept themselves and to understand that feeling good and being happy is the most powerful thing to fight people’s words and thoughts.”
Body shaming isn’t unusual when it comes to beauty pageants – one former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado was called out by Donald Trump when she gained weight after the competition ended.
But many of the Miss America contestants this year said they were working to focus on strength and feeling good about their body – rather than slimming down as much as possible.
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[BRIGHTCOVE “21029505” “” “peoplenow” “no” ]Miss Missouri Erin O’Flaherty told PEOPLE ahead of the Miss America pageant that she tried to show her true shape.
“Before a pageant, I really don’t try to kill myself in the gym because I want the judges to see an accurate version of me,” O’Flaherty, 23, told PEOPLE. “I stick to workouts that keep it fun.”