'Beauty beyond size': Miss Universe Canada calls out body shamers
Published Friday, February 10, 2017 9:57AM EST
Miss France may have been crowned the winner in the Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines last month, but Miss Canada Siera Bearchell won the hearts of thousands for calling out online body shamers.
The outspoken, 23-year-old law student from Moose Jaw, Sask. placed in the top nine at the show where women from 85 countries competed, which was impressive by itself, but she really turned heads when she took to social media to preach self-love.
In a number of posts on her Instagram account, Bearchell took down her critics by writing about the importance of self-worth.
Bearchell explained to CTV’s Your Morning on Friday that she has received relentless comments from online trolls body shaming about her weight and her appearance on her social media accounts for years. She said she even attracted hateful comments last summer when she was in great shape and won the Miss Universe Canada pageant, right after running her first marathon.
“I was fit. I was active and even then people were calling me fat, overweight, lazy,” Bearchell recalled. “So when I got to Miss Universe, those comments only escalated.”
Bearchell said she had enough when she noticed young women online expressing concern about their own looks after she was targeted.
“I had to say something for the girls who follow me and who maybe see me as an inspiration,” Bearchell said. “Our young women need a voice because we live in a society that profits off of our insecurities.”
Last week, Bearchell posted a photo of herself at the Miss Universe competition beside another image someone had doctored to make her appear heavier with a lengthy message to her followers.
“We need to uplift the women in our lives rather than belittle them for their appearance,” she wrote. “We need to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness that we all exhibit. There is beauty beyond size. There is beauty beyond walking on stage in a bikini. There is beauty beyond looking a particular way.”
In another post, Bearchell questioned why critics believe it’s okay to belittle a stranger online when they wouldn’t treat their family and friends in the same manner.
“When we think about the people we love, we think about their character, their humour, their intelligence, their wit, their generosity, their kindness and humility,” Bearchell said. “We don't define our friends and family solely on their appearance.”
Bearchell said the response to her comments has been “incredible” and that she has received emails and messages every single day from women around the world thanking her for her words.
“[They] tell me that I’ve helped them change how they view themselves, I have changed their lives because they can now find beauty within themselves,” she said.
The determined young woman said the online trolls still write mean comments about her, but now that she’s changed her outlook, they don’t bother her as much as before.
“If anything, it adds fuel to my fire to keep speaking on behalf of young women who maybe don’t necessarily have a voice,” Bearchell said. “If this kind of stuff is still going on, there are still things that need to be said.”
With so much focus on the external, it's no wonder we suffer so much internally. I've seen the photo on the left circulating through media online (the changed image). The photo on the right is directly from the @missuniverse Press Website (the real, raw image). It's so sad that us women face this kind of criticism and hatred in a world that needs positivity now, more than ever. We need to uplift the women in our lives rather than belittle them for their appearance. We need to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness that we all exhibit. There is beauty beyond size. There is beauty beyond walking on stage in a bikini. There is beauty beyond looking a particular way. It's time to realize that true beauty, self-worth and validation start from within. #beautybeyondsize #bodydiversity #confidentlybeautiful #misscanada #missuniverse
THANK YOU MERCI SALAMAT Words will never describe what you all mean to me. The messages and comments of support and encouragement and stories blow me away everyday. I often read your messages out loud to my family and friends and cannot read them completely out loud because I start crying. You inspire me even more than I could inspire you. ❤ Of course, I am also floored by some of the negative comments people actually post publicly, but those just add fuel to my fire on this journey. I never imagined my outreach would grow so quickly or be spread so far. I am so excited to continue this journey with you all. 150K in Canada's 150th year. ❤ by @fifthavenuecollection #missuniverse #misscanada #confidently#confidentlybeautiful
This physical body is NOT an indication of health-including physical and mental health. To call me lazy is an insult. To say I was healthier when I was more lean is ignorant. To define me by my body demonstrates the inadequacy of our society. I'm not saying these things just for the judgment directed at me personally. I'm saying them for every woman who has ever questioned her self-worth because of her physical being. We are not defined by our appearance. When we think about the people we love, we think about their character, their humour, their intelligence, their wit, their generosity, their kindness and humility.... we don't define our friends and family solely on their appearance. So please inform me why it's okay to belittle those we don't even know based only on what is seen on the outside?
I have a vision to redefine beauty. I have a vision in which women around the world will recognize that true beauty, validation and self-worth start from within. I have a vision that regardless of our age, gender, race, background and personal views, we will support and encourage one another to be comfortable in our own skin. #confidentlybeautiful • If you are awake, LIVESTREAM the @missuniverse Preliminary Competition starting at 6am ET (5am SK ) #missuniverse
I was recently asked, "What happened to you? Why have you gained weight? You are losing points" This was a reference to my body of course. While I am first to say I am not as lean as I was when I was 16, 20, or even last year, but I am more confident, capable, wise, humble and passionate than ever before. As soon as I started to love who I was rather than always trying to fit what I thought society wanted me to be, I gained a whole new side of life. This is the side I am trying to bring to the @missuniverse competition. The side of life that is so rare to find: self-worth and self-love. We always focus on the things we wish we could change rather than loving everything we are. #missuniverse #bodydiversity #IMG