Size 10 beauty queen refuses title after 'too big' claim

Zoiey Smale Image copyright Zoiey Smale
Image caption Zoiey Smale was named Miss United Continents UK 2017 in June but has now handed back her crown

The winner of a beauty pageant says she has handed back her crown after being told she was "too big" and needed to go on a diet.

Zoiey Smale, a size 10, was due to represent the UK at Miss United Continents 2017 in Ecuador after winning nationally in Nottingham.

She said she considered going anyway in protest but decided to speak out.

The BBC has contacted the international competition organisers, who she says sent the dieting feedback, for comment.

"I think it's important to empower women and know it's OK to be healthy, educated and a good role model," said Ms Smale, from Northamptonshire.

"I didn't hand my crown over straight away. I was going to go out of protest, however what example would that be setting?"

Image copyright Zoiey Smale
Image caption Zoiey Smale said her size 10 figure is "healthy" rather than "ridiculously thin"

The 28-year-old, who has been entering beauty pageants for a decade, beat 11 other finalists to win the title of Miss United Continents UK 2017 in June.

She was due to travel to Ecuador for the international competition on 23 September.

Ms Smale said the national director had some feedback from the international director of the competition, and tried to "tactfully" pass this on.

"I asked her to just tell me exactly what was said," Ms Smale said.

"[I was told] 'she needs to go on a diet plan as she is too big'.

"At this point I was so shocked and needed a moment to compose myself."

Image copyright Zoiey Smale
Image caption Zoiey spoke out about the pageant on social media

Ms Smale said she has received a lot of support since writing about her decision on social media.

"I have received thousands of messages from women who have passed my message on to their daughters," she said.

"It's sad that the world really does try and perceive ridiculously thin models as successful."

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