Just a few days ago, Icelandic beauty queen Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir was prepping for the Miss Grand International competition in Las Vegas. After all, she did take the title of Miss Iceland 2015, so it’s not like Jónsdóttir is new to the pageant circuit. But to her surprise, Thai TV presenter Nawat Itsaragrisil, the owner of Vegas beauty competition, ordered the 20 year old to “lose weight” if she wanted to compete—and succeed. Specifically, the Daily Beast reports that Jónsdóttir says she received a message: “Stop eating breakfast, eat just salad for lunch and drink water every evening until the contest. [The owner] is telling you this because he likes you and wants you to do well in this contest.”
Unbelievable, right? There are enough pressures on women, let alone beauty-pageant queens, to look their “best,”—whatever that may mean—at any given time. But thankfully, Jónsdóttir took the high road: Not only did she quit the competition, but she spoke out against the body-shaming tactics used by its founders, too.
“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,” Jónsdóttir told The Iceland Monitor after the experience. “Personally, I think I’m fine as I am,” she concluded.
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So not only is she athletic and beautiful, but Jónsdóttir has also become a beacon of body positivity in the wake of the incident. Turns out here at Allure we’re not the only ones who value her amazing body image—Nike does, too. In an Instagram post, Jónsdóttir wrote, “My past has made me who I am today. I’m so proud to be one of the faces for Nike and if I would not have my sporty body I would never have gotten this huge opportunity to work with Nike.”
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Body shaming—and the perpetuation of unrealistic, narrow beauty ideals—is a major issue, especially when it comes to beauty pageants. It was just a few weeks ago that the first plus size Miss Italy was called the “politically correct” choice, perhaps implying that she couldn’t have won otherwise.
It echoes the other issues surrounding beauty pageants, weight, women, and politics that are front and center today. Donald Trump and Alicia Machado ring a bell, for instance? But we’re hopeful that Jónsdóttir endorsement by Nike (which recently had a body-positive sports bra campaign of its own) and the body-positive movement—#MermaidThighs and all—are just a few more steps toward acceptance of all shapes and sizes.
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