First Look

Beauty queen defies pageant, quits over 'body shaming'

'Stop eating breakfast, eat just salad for lunch and drink water every evening until the contest,' Miss Iceland says she was advised, if she wanted to win the contest.

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    Beauty candidates for the Miss Earth 2016 pose at a media presentation, in Manila, Philippines, Oct. 11. At a different beauty pageant, Miss Grand Universal Beauty, a contestant dropped out to protest what she called 'body shaming.'
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Iceland’s representative in a Las Vegas-based beauty contest called the Miss Grand International beauty contest announced her decision to quit the contest after a contest affiliate told her to lose weight if she wanted to win.

Miss Iceland 2015 Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir says that she was angry to receive a message from the contest owner, advising her to lose weight if she wanted to win. Now, Ms. Jónsdóttir is being praised as a hero by opponents of body shaming.

“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,” Miss Jónsdóttir told the Iceland Monitor. “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.” She added,

Recommended: Move over Norway: Gender equality makes gains in unexpected places.

“Of course, I don’t take these comments to heart, but to do my best then hear this.... Personally, I think I’m fine as I am.”

Jónsdóttir is an athlete on the Icelandic national athletics team and a representative for Nike, a position of which she says she is proud. Her athletic pursuits make her muscular, and her broad shoulders, in turn, aid her athletic pursuits, she says. Yet these are some of the attributes she was told could hold her back in competition.

“Stop eating breakfast, eat just salad for lunch and drink water every evening until the contest,” said a message Jónsdóttir received during the beauty contest. “[The owner] is telling you this because he likes you and wants you to do well in this contest.”

Jónsdóttir’s spirited rebuke of the contest owner and others who criticized her body type has won her dozens of fans, who say that she is the role model young women need.

The Icelandic athlete’s decision to quit the Miss Grand International beauty contest comes after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump came under fire for his criticism of the first Miss Universe pageant winner, Alicia Machado, after he bought the franchise.

Mr. Trump has since repeatedly attacked Miss Machado, both for her weight and other reasons. Critics of Trump’s behavior toward Machado say that her treatment is emblematic of society’s attitudes towards women and body image.

Body positivity advocates say that Jónsdóttir is an excellent advocate for young women.

"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,” says Jónsdóttir.

"In my country, my body shape is perfect. And that's what I'm gonna remember. No one will ever tell me anything else."

 
 
 

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