A size 10 beauty queen has has given up her title of Miss UK after reportedly being told to lose weight.
Zoiey Smale, from Nottinghamshire, won the title this June after winning the UK round of the Miss United Continents contest.
The 28-year-old was due to travel to Ecuador to compete in international rounds next month, but has dropped out of the competition and handed back her crown.
“After being asked to lose weight and go on a diet plan for an international competition, I have withdrawn,” she said on Facebook.
“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.”
Smale said she became involved in pageants because they give women the opportunity to “empower others” through work in the community. But sadly, some competitions have a darker side.
“It shocks me more than anything that there are still pageants out there who only view size 00 girls as role models,” she said.
“Let me tell you something, pageant girls are more than just a number on a clothing tag. Real queens empower others, are intelligent and help communities come together.”
Having competed in beauty pageants for 10 years, Smale claimed to have “seen it all”, including “international pageant directors bullying young aspiring girls into believing the only way to be successful is to be thin”.
“I’m speaking from first hand [experience] as eight years ago I was one of those girls. Those rogue competitions that claim to be pageants - yet insist you eat less, parade around in a bikini for a few days and sit at the arm of a man over dinner whilst pushing an olive around a plate - honey, let me tell you, this is NOT a pageant,” she said.
“I was branded ‘fat’ because I am size 10. I actually believed that I was so disgusting that no one would ever love me. How sad is that?”
While Smale may not have called out body-shaming in the industry when she was younger, now she’s 28 and a mum, she’s found the courage to speak out.
“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 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 ended her post with a body-positive message with her followers.
“All in all we never know when our time on this earth is up.. so love yourself, eat a bit of cake and laugh until your belly hurts,” she said.
“No negativity needs to be spread here. Everyone is entitled to their own option, if everyone liked tea there would be no need for coffee. Love to you all.”
Smale is not the first beauty queen to drop out of a competition over body-shaming.
Last year, Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir, who had been crowned Miss Iceland, pulled out of an international pageant after reportedly being told to lose weight.
“If anyone tells me that I’m too fat or whatever, they just don’t deserve me,” she said at the time.
HuffPost UK has contacted Miss United Continents for comment and is awaiting response.