Miss Indiana USA Gains In Confidence

During the Miss USA pageant on June 8, social media buzzed with controversy over Miss Indiana USA’s body size. 

By Hannah Hammitte
Contributing Writer

The swimsuit portion of the pageant began and she walked the catwalk for 30 seconds. She strutted toward the audience while sporting a white Queens bikini trimmed in metallic green. Little did this 5-foot-8-inch brunette know, those 30 seconds would be the next morning’s headlines for her daring to weigh in at 137 pounds and on top of that, be proud of it.

Mekayla Diehl Miss Indiana USA 2014 gave the world something to talk about during the 63rd Miss USA pageant held in Baton Rouge River Center in Louisiana on June 8. Social media buzzed with both positive and negative comments when Diehl sported a curvier body than her competitors.

For centuries women have had to adhere to society’s “ideal body.” Media plays a vital role in what a woman’s “normal” body size should be. Supporters praised the representation of a curvier body while critics felt pageants are intended to be a platform for a healthy lifestyle.

Certified Miss America Judge Sherri Forrest said a normal body type can be defined in many ways.

“When judging I do not look for the skinniest girl by any means,” Forrest said. “No two bodies are alike. You can be a size 14 and in great shape. You can be a size 2 and be in terrible shape. My version of a normal body type is one of any type except one that is morbidly obese and extremely skinny.”

Forrest said certain pageant systems emphasize body images more than others.

“As a judge, it warms my heart to see your ‘not so average’ (as determined by society) body type to win,” Forrest said.

Controversy arose when Diehl began to be praised for her “normal” body size on social media.

“Finally a contestant that’s not a bag of bones. #missindiana #missusa2014 #beautiful,” one user tweeted.

Photographer and makeup artist Jami Lynn Daniels said she has been involved with pageants since the age of 4 as a contestant, director, judge and consultant.

“I don’t think she should be praised for her body in comparison to the other contestants even though I think she looked great,” Daniels said. “She chose to compete in a competition where the contestants have a specific body image to try and attain and she didn’t do it so she lost.”

Daniels said pageants are a platform to promote a healthy lifestyle and with all of the obesity in this nation it’s nice something encourages young women to be physically fit and healthy.

Diehl spoke out about her body size and defended her curves proudly in an interview with People Magazine.

“I’m confident in my own skin. I don’t obsess over being too skinny or not being tall enough. I knew that I would be going up against some girls that were 6’1” and professional models. That’s them; I’m celebrating who I am,” Diehl told People Magazine.

Diehl also told People Magazine she gained around six pounds in muscle mass by training before leaving for Miss USA and actually worked to emphasize the small of her waist to make herself look curvier.

Personal trainer and weight loss consultant Saje Cox Barger said she has worked with several girls preparing for pageants with a swimsuit category.

“I notice the girls who spend hours in the gym and I just want to tell them that it is Ok to have muscles and curves,” Barger said. “You do not have to be a size zero to be beautiful.”

Pageant queens all over the world have had to deal with what pageant systems standards are when it comes to physique.

Miss Cotton States Kristien Carroll said different pageant systems stand for different things.

“I also believe the pageant system goes with the trends of the people,” Carroll said. “If the people want ‘normal’ body queens that’s what the people get. If the people want a Heidi Klum then the people get the Victoria Secret model.”

According to www.livestrong.com, a woman at 5 feet 9 inches tall should weigh 129 to 170 pounds. Diehl is 137 pounds at 5 feet 8 inches and is confident as ever.

“Low self-esteem adds on the pounds,” Carroll said. “Gain in confidence.”