In the high-stakes and competitive world of beauty pageants, women often feel pressured to be perfect.
After spending hours exercising, doing hair and makeup, rehearsing your best answers and practicing your smile in the mirror you can still wind up as Miss Congeniality, and the intense pressure drives many young women away from these competitions.
The latest woman to walk away from the pageant world is one of its biggest stars, and the reason she chose to give up her title has many fans seeing red. Zoiey Smale has been competing in pageants since age 16, and made a name for herself by winning a number of national titles.
The 28-year-old came out of early retirement last year to compete in the Miss United Kingdom pageant and took home the crown, but now she's giving it up after pageant organizers asked her to go on a diet.
Smale, who says she's a size 10, was "upset and shocked" by the request, which she claims was made by an organizer for next month's Miss United Continents pageant. She was left wondering how to respond before writing a passionate Facebook post that has since gone viral.
"Let me tell you something," she begins.
"Having been in the industry for over 10 years I have seen it all, from amazing competitions to international pageant directors bullying young aspiring girls into believing the only way to be successful is to be thin," Smale writes.
The beauty queen considered going to the competition anyways, but decided to hand in her crown and leave the pageant world behind "as I didn't want to support a company who didn't love me for me."
Smale adds that "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.” Smale even biked 50 miles to raise money for the pageant in Ecuador, so she's obviously in very good shape.
But she's not the first pageant queen to be criticized based on an organizer's unreasonable standards. Just last year, Miss Iceland Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir quit the Miss Grand International after being told she was fat and her shoulders were too big.
"In my country my body shape is perfect," Jónsdóttir shared in a social media post of her own, "if anyone tells me that I'm too fat or whatever, they just don't deserve me. And that's why I left."
Smale hopes that her example will remind young girls struggling with self-esteem issues that other people's standards and expectations don't matter. "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."
Share this story if you think Smale is beautiful just the way she is!