British Beauty Queen Hands Back Crown After Being Told To Lose Weight

The 27-year-old was preparing to compete at the Miss United Continents in Ecuador next month.

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'I am in a dress, I have gel in my hair, I haven't slept all night, I'm starved, and I'm armed! Don't mess with me!'

Fans of the hit 2000 rom-com Miss Congeniality starring Sandra Bullock will have fond memories of this quote from the beauty pageant-inspired film that saw the Oscar-winner's character Gracie Hart suffer painful beauty procedures, late-night catwalk practices and receive a ban from eating doughnuts.

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And while we may laugh at this fictional world of beauties critiqued for their appearance and required to perform a 'talent', it appears that for 28-year-old former Miss UK 2017 winner Zoiey Smale, the brutality of the pageant scene is all to real.

In June, Smale was crowned the winner of Miss UK 2017 and has since been preparing to compete at the Miss United Continents in Ecuador in September.

However, the mother-of-one recently dropped out of the competition and gave up her title as a result of being asked to 'lose as much weight as she could,' - apparently by the international directors of the competition - in order to stand a chance of winning a title, she claims in an interview with the Independent.

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'I can't represent a company that thinks it's okay to body shame women because they don't have the right measurements,' Smale told the publication.

'I was asked to submit every measurement on my body, which I didn't do. My measurements should be irrelevant.

'For a person to tell me to change myself to fit in with a company make me feel sick. How are people allowed to dictate what I put in my body? Beauty is not determined by the size you are on a clothes tag. So I gave up my title.

'I thought I'd entered a competition supported the empowerment of women. But it went against everything that I stand for and it wasn't the pageant for me,' she added.

Smale first starting competition in pageants at the age of 18 and has since won three national titles which she credits helped her overcome her eating disorder.

'Puberty hit me like a brick in the face and I grew to a staggering 5ft 11 whilst most of my friends were still 5ft,' she recalls.

I can't represent a company that thinks it's okay to body shame women

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'I used to hunch and make myself smaller to not stand out. I put pressure on myself to be as small as possible and developed a unhealthy view of myself and food. I was obsessed with weight. I remember having a check up at the doctors and putting stones in my pocket,' she adds.

'Pageants were a place where they embraced my height so it helped me develop a love for myself. I didn't take them very seriously but I saw a side that was alien to me: empowerment,' she said.

Explaining the difficult decision to hang up her pageant crown, Smale said she's pleased it's raising awareness of body shaming and the importance of championing women of all sizes.

'I worked so hard gaining sponsorship deals, raising money for charity and making individual costumes. So it was a shame to think my hard work went to waste. But it hasn't. After telling people my story and having emails about how I have inspired others, that means more to me than any crown could,' she added.

Smale, you're still a queen to us.

ELLE UK has contacted Miss United Continents and is awaiting comment.

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