A British beauty queen says she gave up her crown after a pageant organizer told her she needed to drop some weight to compete at an upcoming international competition.
Zoiey Smale, 28, of Northampton, England, won the title of Miss United Kingdom back in June and was set to advance to the Miss United Continents pageant in Ecuador in late September.
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Smale told TODAY that she recently received a call from her national director who informed her the international director of the competition wanted her “to lose weight and go on some sort of diet plan.”
“I was so upset and shocked because I had worked so hard in the run up to the national title. I took some time to think about my decision. Do I go anyway out of protest? Or hand my title over. I made the decision to hand my title over as I didn't want to support a company who didn't love me for me,” the mother of one said.
Requests for comment from the Miss United Continents pageant were not returned.
Smale recently took to Facebook to write about her decision, noting she has been competing in such contests for over a decade.
“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,” wrote Smale, alongside a photo of her in a blue gown and her crown.
“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,” she added.
Similarly, last year, Miss Iceland, Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir quit the Miss Grand International beauty pageant after she was also allegedly told to lose weight.
Supporters took to Smale’s Facebook page to applaud her decision to quit the competition. “You should be very proud of who you are and what you do to inspire others not to be afraid of being true to themselves,” wrote one person. “Absolutely disgusted that anyone feels they have the right to tell anyone how they should look, least of all someone with a perfect figure in the minds of many. Proud of you for standing up for what's right…” wrote another.
Smale told TODAY that she hopes young women learn from her decision. “I hope others can see it's not okay to be treated this way and the number on a clothing label doesn't define how successful you will be in life,” she said.