ABC News’ Juju Chang and Alison Kenworthy:
The beauty queen who set social media on fire for her “normal” body says she was “blown away” by the reaction to her more curvaceous figure and hopes it helps both young girls and boys.
“I never imagined me competing in Miss USA would do this,” Miss Indiana USA Mekayla Diehl, 25, told ABC News Tuesday. “It warms my heart to know that my 30 seconds onstage has touched so many girls’ lives, and even boys as well.”
Diehl’s 30 seconds on stage at Sunday’s Miss USA pageant did not result in her winning the crown – that title went to Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez- but it did result in a flood of comments on Twitter, Facebook and more applauding her for being more than a size zero, like most pageant competitors.
Among the more than 10,000 tweets tagged to Diehl are sentiments like, “Finally a contestant that is not a bag of bones,” and “Dear #MissIndiana thank you for looking live an average woman.”
“I was blown away,” Diehl, who placed in the top 20 in Miss USA, said of the response. “Never in my right mind would I imagine that this would blow up to what it is.”
The flattery for Diehl as a “normal” woman came even though the beauty queen is 5-foot-8 and wears a size 4, while, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the average American woman wears a size 12-14 and is 5-foot-3.
Diehl, a collegiate volleyball player, says she did not go overboard to train for the pageant but just trained as she would for volleyball season.
“I didn’t starve myself or go to any crazy extremes,” Diehl said. “I just lived a healthy lifestyle and trained just a little harder, like an athlete, to get ready for it.
“Just like anybody can,” she said.
Now the beauty queen deemed “normal” says she has advice for young girls who want to follow in her footsteps.
“You can’t worry about the girl standing next to you because you’ll never be that girl,” Diehl said. Your body is a gift and you have to love it and have that confidence because that’s the only thing you can do.
“You can’t worry about being somebody else,” she said. “You have to be yourself.”