MANILA — Reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray has spoken up against bodyshaming, a week after screenshots of a Thai beauty queen supposedly calling her “fat” circulated among pageant fans online.
The topics of bullying and bodyshaming were brought up by followers of Gray on Twitter on Sunday, as she opened for the first time a question-and-answer session on the microblogging platform.
“Obviously I stand firmly against any form of bullying and bashing — online and off,” she wrote, when asked for her stand on online bullying.
“It is never, ever okay to put someone down for the sake of ‘expressing your opinion.’ With words come power and we should be using those words to build someone up and not pull them down,” she added.
Asked specifically about “bodyshaming,” Gray referred to it as “hurtful,” and stressed that it “should never be tolerated.”
“If anyone reading this too has been bodyshamed, I know how it feels. I’m sorry you’ve had to experience that. But know that you are more than your appearance. You are a capable, unique and worthy person. And you are never alone,” she went on.
Gray did not specify an instance where she became the target of bodyshaming. Her followers, however, were quick to link her words of encouragement to last week’s headlines about a Miss Grand Thailand candidate, Coco Arayha Suparurk, sharing an Instagram story describing Gray as “fat.”
Suparurk was eventually crowned Miss Grand Thailand 2019 on Saturday.
Among those who came to Gray’s defense was Miss Universe Canada 2016 Siera Bearchell, who, in a YouTube vlog, lamented how bodyshaming a popular personality such as Gray, given her role, can negatively affect young women who are struggling with their body image.
Gray happened to address this precise issue on Sunday, when a follower who described herself as a “fat girl” sought her advice in light of her having “trouble loving [myself] the way I am.”
Gray responded: “You are so much more than your body! You are you mind and your unique talents and your character and your life experiences and your personality! You are so so much more than the exterior! And people will always remember how you made them feel and not how you looked.”
In her Twitter chat with fans, Gray also shared that her confidence is a conscious effort, and “isn’t something you’re born with or that people ‘just have.’”
“It’s like a ‘muscle’ that you have to decide to use and it strengthens the more you work on it. So continue to work on yourself, embrace your uniqueness and be kind and positive,” she said.
Asked for her advice to those who are battling insecurities, Gray answered: “Insecurities will always be there, but your ability to work past them is what you can work on. Be kind to yourself, we’re all works in progress and that’s okay.”
Gray tackled several other topics on Sunday, including how she deals with “bad days,” her stage persona in contrast to her “introverted” real-life self, feuding pageant fans, and criticisms on the apparent lack of overseas travels during her Miss Universe reign.