At Sunday’s Miss USA pageant, 25-year-old Miss Indiana, Mekayla Diehl, didn’t make it past the semifinals. She was one of 10 women who were eliminated from the superficial, “I wish for peace on Earth” competition after the swimsuit round, never to be heard from again.
Or that’s usually the story. Instead, after Diehl pranced down the runway in her skimpy white bikini, the Twitterverse ensured that her legacy would live on, with a flurry of tweets that congratulated her on taking the stage with a more “normal” body.
Even supermodel Petra Nemcova applauded Diehl’s “feat.” “I think it’s fantastic,” she explained. “Each person has a different body type. Some people are naturally skinny, some curvy. We have to celebrate all different shapes of the body. The main thing is to be healthy.”
“It’s quite overwhelming in a positive way, I suppose,” Diehl told Fox and Friends in response to the praise she and her “curves” have received. “I did not [starve myself to fit into the bikini]. And the funny thing is, the bikini did not fit well—and people made a point to tell me that. But if that’s the only negative point of that entire experience, I’ll take it. I think the inspiration to some young girls has been wonderful…I wanted to inspire others to go after their dreams, and I never imagined it would be in a swimsuit. I trained very hard for the body I have, but I didn’t go to any extremes, and I’m proud of that. There’s nothing I would change about my preparation for Miss USA.”
I, too, think Diehl looked amazing. Yes, she may have been a wee bit larger than her pageant peers, but in no way would I consider her “thick,” an adjective many on the social media website have used to describe her physique. But, with the average woman clocking in at a size 14 (anything above a size 12 is typically considered plus-sized), I’m not quite sure I’d consider her “normal,” either, the most readily used word to describe her body.
In an interview with the Indianapolis Star Diehl revealed that she is 5’8” and wears a size 4—measurements similar to those of Katy Perry, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Blake Lively, to put the numbers in context. And never in a million years do I think anyone would call Lively’s tight, leggy body “normal.”
Our society has a major issue with quickly categorizing people when it comes to body image. If a girl is too skinny—she’s called out for being a “bag of bones” or slapped with an eating disorder label. If she’s too fat, she’s considered “unhealthy” or “obese” (or worse, “tractor-sized” or “a hippo,” as Oscar-nominated actress Melissa McCarthy was once called). With our obsession for calling out celebrities, fashion models, and the like for being too this or too that, how is it that we’ve now found ourselves becoming enamored with a woman who is in fact thin—just not overly so? I agree—Diehl is gorgeous. And she has a healthy physique not normally seen in pageants that she should be applauded for. But is she “normal”? No. She’s still skinny.
Although not as prevalent, other people on Twitter shared my sentiment. One tweet read: “Miss Indiana does not have a “normal body”. She has a very above average body just like all the other smokin hot Miss America girls.” Another agreed: “How are people saying miss Indiana’s body is “normal?” She’s in shape and so happens to not be a bag of bones but her body is above average.”
And from Diehl’s interview with The Star, she, too, seems to be a bit confused as to why her still-thin, but not-too-tiny, physique is causing such a stir.
“Well, I’m OK with ‘normal,’” she said. “Whatever defines ‘normal.’ I guess it’s better than being weird.”