Miss Iceland Quits Pageant After Allegedly Being Encouraged To Lose Weight & Pens An Open Letter On Instagram
A beauty pageant contestant has a powerful message for the world about body shaming. Miss Iceland quit a pageant after allegedly being told to "lose weight" before the finals. Twenty-year-old Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir, crowned Miss Iceland in Sept. 2015, was competing in the Miss Grand International beauty pageant in Las Vegas. According to the Iceland Monitor, Jónsdóttir has been prepping for the pageant in the U.S. since Oct. 8, with finals set to take place on Tuesday, Oct. 25. Jónsdóttir told the Iceland Monitor that spokespeople from the contest relayed a message from the founder and owner of the pageant suggesting that she "Stop eating breakfast, eat just salad for lunch and drink water every evening until the contest." The flimsy rational behind this reported unhealthy advice? The spokespeople allegedly stressed to the Nordic beauty that the comments were given because the owner "likes you" and "wants you to do well in this contest." Wow. Thanks a lot!
Instead of bowing to the advisors' alleged pressure to starve herself, Jónsdóttir took a stand. "If the owner of the contest really wants me to lose weight and doesn’t like me the way I am then he doesn’t deserve to have me in the Top 10," she told the Iceland Monitor.
Jónsdóttir, who has been a competitive gymnast since the age of 10, and earned a place on the Icelandic national pole vaulting team five years ago, couldn't be happier with her athletic build. "Yes, my shoulders are a bit broader than the other girls’ but that is because I was a member of the Icelandic national athletics team and I am proud of that."
Jónsdóttir wrote an open letter addressed to the pageant owner Nawat Itsaragrisil explaining her reasons for dropping out of the competition. She shared a photo of the moving note on Instagram with the caption "My goodbye letter" on Oct. 24. In just a few hours the post gained thousands of likes, and hundreds of supportive comments flooded in from around the world. Fans in Spain, Toronto, Indonesia, Belgium and France expressed their pride, respect, and admiration for her courage, congratulating her on making a "fantastic choice."
The letter reads:
"Dear Mr. Nawat
I am a very strong woman, but sometimes my strength isn't enough.
Your staff told me that I had to lose weight for the finals because I have too much fat on me and also too big shoulders. They told me to lose weight and you would like me more.
I decided to leave. I've been Miss World Iceland, placed 14th after judging interview in Miss World, I won another pageant (Miss EM) and with all my qualities and good experience I come with my passion and hard work to your pageant. Four days before stage they tell me that I'm too fat for you.
Actually if anyone tells me that I'm too fat or whatever, they just don't deserve me. And that's why I left. Miss Grand International doesn't deserve my face, body, personality or heart.
I truly hope that the organisation opens their eyes because the year is 2016 and if you are gonna hold an international pageant, you have to see the international beauty.
In my country, my body shape is perfect. And that's what I'm gonna remember. No one will ever tell me anything else."
After this experience, Jónsdóttir has vowed to stop competing in pageants once and for all. "I no longer have any interest in doing my best in this competition after receiving that message," she told the Icelandic Monitor. "This is definitely the last contest I shall be taking part in."
This type of body shaming seems to be systemic of beauty pageants. Trump's comments in regards to the weight of 1996 Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado have been at the forefront of the 2016 election. As much as we want to believe that progress is being made, 20 years later pageant owners are still encouraging their contestants to "drop a few pounds," and promoting eating disorders.
Thank you, Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir, for speaking up.