Miss Indiana Mekayla Diehl Talks “Normal” Body Image

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She didn’t win Miss USA 2014, heck she didn’t even make it to the final 10! But Miss Indiana, Mekayla Diehl has been talked about non-stop since the competition at the end of May.

At first she was a trending topic on twitter, after her appearance in a bathing suit at Miss USA showed a woman who most people were praising for being “normal” and not super skinny like we’re so used to seeing. Sure, she was fit, healthy, toned and still had a banging body, but it also had a huge element of realism in it that resonated with women everywhere.

All of a sudden the “normal” women in America (i.e, all those who aren’t beauty pageant queens or models) breathed a sigh of relief that there was a woman who was actually representing the rest of them on that stage.

It was the kind of attention Meklayla, 25, was not expecting, but has come to embrace it, as it has been a very positive thing in regards to body image for women as a whole.

Mekayla isn’t actually plus size or curvy like some were predicting, she is 5’8″ and is a size 4. That’s still on the more petite size, given her height. But the surrounding conversation become one about what should be considered “normal” or “average”?

She spoke to Elle Magazine about her health and diet regime, and what it means to be an unofficial spokeswoman for millions of girls in America.

“I really did take it as a compliment because to me, normality means it’s something you can relate to. And if a little girl or a teenager who is going through self-image problems right now looks at me and thinks I’m normal, to me that means she can relate to me. We have days where we just want to avoid the mirror, but most of the time I’m really confident in my own skin. And I think the girls saw that when I competed in a swimsuit on TV and the fact that I’m “normal,” I think it just means that I’m relatable,” she said.

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She was very honest about her own body, especially in the lead up to the Miss USA competition, saying at the end of the day you have to embrace what you’ve got and work with it.

“It’s very easy to get consumed in it. I was [next to Miss] Iowa, and she is just a beautiful girl. She’s sweet, inside and out. She is tall. She’s lean. She has a flat stomach. And here I am, I’m more of an athletic build. But you have to find the things that you’re proud of about yourself. I love my arms and my shoulders, and I love my smile. And when I walk on stage, [people aren’t] looking at the fact that I don’t have a line going down my stomach. I worked very hard and it still didn’t happen, and I came to terms with that.”

That’s probably the part that made us all go crazy over her. There she was on stage sans six-pack yet still smiling looking at beautiful and confident as ever.

Back in Indiana, she told her hometown news channel that body image is something she will be incorporating into her work as the state queen.

“We have a skewed view of what the average woman looks like.”

“I really wish we’d forget this whole ‘normal’ word. Let’s just get it out of the situation and start focusing on a healthy body and celebrating the diversity of women and their bodies,” she said. “We need to be teaching our girls, especially, and our boys alike that we need to be comfortable in our own skin.”

“No matter what I do, I want to continue advocating for a healthy lifestyle, positive body image,” she said.

Her message to all aspiring beauty pageant contestants is this: “What’s so great about today’s pageant girl is she’s usually the girl next door. They’re not just looking for models anymore,” she said. “Was I aware that I was more of an athletic build? Yes, but bodies don’t win pageants. Confidence wins anything.”

As far as we’re concerned, she’s more than just a girl who rocked a bikini and became a viral sensation for it. She is spreading a very powerful message about confidence, honesty and diversity. If this is the type of beauty queen we’re going to see more and more of in the future, then we’ll be tuning in every year!

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