|Why can't both of these women be "normal?"|
Since the Miss USA pageant this past Sunday, the majority of the commentary surrounding the pageant has involved Miss Indiana, Mekayla Diehl and her “normal” swimsuit body. Feedback has ranged from praise that Diehl’s body is realistic for a “real woman” (at the expense of criticizing the more thin contestants) to outraged pageant girls who feel that it is ridiculous that a woman who “didn’t train like she was competing for Miss USA” beat out other women who "trained harder."
Needless to say, I have several opinions. And criticisms. But they all boil down to one thing:
Why are we so obsessed with criticizing other women’s bodies?
First of all, none of us knows how Mekayla (or any of the other contestants) prepared for Miss USA. We don’t know what she ate, how often she worked out, if she took diet pills, or what her relationship with food/exercise looks like. We don’t know her unique genetic make up, her body fat percentage, or her hormonal composition.
We have no idea what “normal” looks like for Mekayla’s or for any of the other contestants’ unique biological make up and body type.
And while we’re at it, what the heck does normal even mean? Why are we so obsessed with finding the perfect comparison? And why does identifying one woman as “normal” equate to then putting down every other woman in the competition?
I watched the Miss USA pageant on Sunday (duh), and I was impressed at how many of the top 20 looked healthy. They looked toned, they looked happy, and they looked proud of what they had accomplished.
Each of us has a unique body type, unique nutritional needs, and a unique relationship with food and exercise. What is normal for one woman is not normal for another.
Which is why it is so ridiculous, and equally wrong, that other women are criticizing Diehl for being “not fit enough” for the Miss USA competition.
Swimsuit at Miss USA accounts for 33% of the score. Maybe Mekayla could have been leaner, or maybe she was as lean as she could get. Regardless, if a contestant decides that she does not want to (or cannot) follow the sure-fire no-carb, high cardio approach to get that last bit of fat off of her body to score higher in a category that accounts for one-third of her score, it’s her prerogative. It’s not our place to criticize her.
If Miss USA was chosen solely based on her fitness level or body fat percentage, we wouldn’t need a pageant. We’d just need measuring tape, a scale, and a notepad.
Why aren’t we capable of celebrating the unique, powerful, and special individuals that exist regardless of their weight, BMI, or body fat percentage? Our inability to do this reinforces to the younger generation that their worth is based on their outside packaging, rather than what is on the inside.
The issue is not “what is normal?” but rather, “why do we need to define normal at the expense of ‘abnormal?’”
It’s time to change that conversation.