After winning one of the top pageants in the United Kingdom, Zoiey Smale has handed back her title. Smale, the 28-year-old winner of this year’s Miss UK pageant, says she gave back her crown after allegedly being told to lose weight by competition organizers. In withdrawing as Miss UK, Smale will not compete in the Miss United Continents pageant scheduled for this coming September.
In a Facebook post, Smale wrote about her decision to withdraw and her disappointment at the message pageants who prioritize thinness continue to perpetuate. “[It] shocks me more than anything that there are still pageants out there who only view size 00 girls as role models,” Smale wrote in her Facebook post on August 21. Allegedly being asked by pageant directors to “go on a diet plan” in order to lose weight for the international competition was what led Smale to quit, according to her post.
Smale says she had previously been “branded ‘fat’” by other pageants at a size ten (a size six in the U.S.), which kept her from competing until this most recent Miss United Kingdom pageant. However, no title is worth being made to feel worthless, Smales says. “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,” Smale wrote. “I will be handing back my crown and wish the new title holder the very best of luck.”
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Smale relayed the phone call she allegedly received with a request from the international pageant directors. “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?’ ” Smale said. Having competed in pageants since 18, Smale said it “saddens” her to know there are still pageants with such a narrow idea of beauty.
“I am not here to name and shame,” Smale added on Facebook. “However I wanted to be honest with you all as to why I will not be participating in the competition.” Smale also thanked the national judges and director for “seeing a winner in [her].”
As Mashable points out, Smale is not the first pageant winner to withdraw after being body shamed. Last year, Miss Iceland dropped out of an international beauty competition after being told she had “too much fat” on her. “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 be able to see the international beauty,” Miss Iceland’s Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir wrote in her goodbye letter posted to Instagram.
“Let me tell you something, pageant girls are more than just a number on a clothing tag,” as Smale stated on her Facebook post. “Real queens empower others, are intelligent and help communities come together.”
In a second Facebook post, Smale expressed gratitude for the overwhelming support for her decision to withdraw. “At the end of the day a crown is a crown,” Smale stated. And Smale is certainly a queen regardless.