Plus Size Model Emma Loney Is Breaking Pageant Stereotypes

24 year old Emma Loney is a Law Student at Northern Illinois University College of Law studying criminal law, with the hopes of one day becoming a district attorney, judge, and on the Supreme Court. She has a bachelors degree from Edgewood College in both criminal justice and psychology. In addition to her academic endeavors, Emma is a plus size model, content creator, and body positivity advocate. She has been competing in pageants for many years and held titles with many systems, and after placing in the top 12 at Miss Earth USA 2021, she is extremely excited to be chasing her lifelong dream of walking on the Miss USA stage as the first plus size contestant.

Photo credit: the Code Creatives

Fun facts: I have a twin brother, make clay earrings, and have saltwater fish tanks!
Favorite food: Ravioli
Interesting hobby: Fish keeping
Favorite color: Orange
Last song you listened to: Wishing well
Last book you read: Constitutional Law
Zodiac sign: Scorpio
Dream career: Supreme Court Justice

What inspired you to compete in pageants?

I competed with the Miss Earth USA system a few years back and really loved the staff and the experience. Additionally, it was an amazing opportunity to be apart of a group of women advocating for the conservation of our earth, as it is the biggest issue facing our world today.
My goal through pageantry has always been to promote body positivity, raise awareness for eating disorders, and encourage inclusion on the pageant stage. Now, representing Southern Illinois for the Miss Illinois USA pageant, I hope to bring a plus-size body to the Miss USA stage and show that inclusion is so important and we are in dire need of this representation on this stage.

Having a title while in law school must keep you super busy! What is a typical day like for you?

Also being in my first year of law school, modeling, and working, I never have a dull moment! My days are usually jam-packed with homework, class, work, interviews/appearances, and more! It’s so important for me to also make time for my family and friends, along with time for relaxation and rest.

What has been the highlight of your reign so far?

Placing in the top 12 at Miss Earth USA was a moment that I will forever cherish, especially the support I got following that moment across the world. I also was able to make some amazing connections and friends that I will forever be so grateful for. The absolute highlight for me, though, is the opportunity to show women everywhere that they can feel beautiful, empowered, and confident even if they do not fit the traditional mold for what our society deems beautiful.

You are creating a space in pageantry to change the stereotype by promoting inclusivity. Tell us about your platform:

For the past six years, I have made it my mission to empower others to embrace who they are and promote body positivity. When my sister was diagnosed and then hospitalized for a severe eating disorder my freshman year of college, I realized that society’s standards of beauty affect everyone, everywhere. Pageantry is an industry that has always been, to me, a platform to empower women, encourage change, and promote how well-rounded women are. But, in 2021, we continue to see the same type of women competing and winning prestigious titles, furthering the dialog and expectation that women can only look and feel beautiful if they fit that mold. I saw, and have experienced, just how damaging that is, and want to show that you can be healthy and beautiful as a plus sized woman.

Lady Code has a focus on women empowerment. Do you have any advice for our readers who may struggle with feeling confident in their bodies?

I struggled for a long time, and honestly, there are still days that I do. Loving our bodies is not something that happens overnight, and is something we must always work at, especially in a world where social media dominates and we are constantly shown images of what society says to be the “ideal”. My biggest advice is to learn to appreciate everything your body is and does. Your body has gotten you through every moment you have experienced in life, the ups and the downs. Do not compare yourself to others, as hard as that is, and get used to looking in the mirror and saying positive things about yourself. Wear things that make you feel confident, and don’t let anyone make you feel like you aren’t worthy because of your size or what you look like. This will take time, but the more you learn to appreciate and love yourself as you are, the more confident you will be. Be unapologetically yourself.

Do you see the future of pageants changing? In what ways?

I truly hope so, and why I am choosing to compete in the Miss USA system. Society needs this; women need this. The majority of women do not look like your stereotypical pageant girl, and the representation of other body types is extremely important, and what I believe will help keep pageants relevant. I believe we are passed solely judging a woman and her beauty based on her size, and we are past expecting women to adhere to restrictive and dangerous eating to feel their body is good enough. It is also time we break the belief that every woman or person who is considered “plus size” is unhealthy. Body size is not always indicative of health, and through my years of plus size modeling especially, I have met some very strong, athletic women who are a size 14/16. Many curvy or plus size women exercise and eat healthy, but because their body holds weight differently, are automatically labeled unhealthy. We need to be showing young girls and boys everywhere that taking care of your body is THE most important thing, instead of pushing for the “perfect body” or a number on the scale.

What is the best advice you have ever received regarding self-confidence?

I have had so many amazing and kind things said to me over the years, but even more so, negative and hurtful things. What has pushed me the most is those negative things because I had two choices: accept what they said as the truth, or prove them wrong. I chose to prove them wrong.

Keep up with Emma on Instagram: @emma.loney

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