A former Miss Universe claims her New York modeling agency has labeled her a plus-size model after she packed on just 2 pounds.
Paulina Vega, who took home the coveted crown in 2014, detailed her story in a post published to her blog on Tuesday.
The beauty queen explained that in the summer of 2016 she signed with a modeling agency – with which she had a worked before – and spent the next few months traveling the world.
When she returned three months later, she was weighed at the agency and told she would no longer be considered a catwalk editorial fashion model due to her weight gain of just 2.2 pounds.
“At the meeting they told me that they no longer considered me a model of a catwalk and editorial, that I was no longer among the “skinny” and would be classified as a “plus size” model,” Vega, 26, wrote.
“It was a moment of wow, of shock. I was not offended that they said ‘curvy’ or that I went to another ‘category,’ but I found the term PLUS SIZE alone (for me or for any woman who is in perfect health). Under what standards is it plus size? And who decides those standards?”
On Wednesday, the Colombian pageant queen shared an image to Instagram of herself in an over-the-shoulder one-piece swimsuit and told her followers about her new reclassification.
“In my agency in New York I was classified as a “plus size” model, what in Spanish means “extra size” or “big size” (for gaining 1 kilo!),” she captioned the black-and-white image.
Vega said she felt “healthy and happy with my body,” and began questioning if she wanted modeling to be in her future after her encounter with her agency.
“The truth is that I had endured so many years of criticism, [heard] so many opinions about my physique, my personality, my mentality and even my attitude, that [their categorizing me a plus size] did not touch those nerves,” Vega wrote. “But it made me think, is this what I want for myself?”
She continued: “After my reign, I had a year and a half in which I dedicated myself to jobs that were beyond my image and challenged my mind. Jobs in which I had to think, interact with others and show my personality. Going from that place of constant exploration and growth to being again judged only by my appearance seemed ridiculous to me. I knew I was not in the right place.”
Vega said that the entire experience allowed her to reflect on her own self and turn her energy to other avenues in which she is passionate. She also acknowledges that the modeling and fashion landscape is rapidly changing with the industry’s acceptance of various body types – but notes that there is still much work to be done to change the stigmas associated with modeling.
“Going from “skinny” to “curvy” could have disappointed me. Instead, it inspired me to focus on what I really love to do and build my own path,” she wrote. “Above all, he taught me to be loyal to my truth, not to let other people’s ideas pigeonhole me and to choose how I want to live my life.”