Miss Universe 2016 Was THISCLOSE to Having a Plus Size Contestant

Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach and Mirella Paz Baylon. (Photo: @missuniverse/Instagram)

We talk all the time about the leaps and bounds the American plus size community has made over the last several years, perhaps culminating with Ashley Graham’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover back in February. But it’s happening internationally, too. 

Earlier this week, a 19-year old named Mirella Paz Baylon finished as a finalist in the 2016 Miss Peru pageant — a precursor to Miss Universe. The model is the first plus size woman to have entered the beauty pageant, let alone make it to the top 10. 

Particularly taken with Baylon was current Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, who served as a judge at the Peru competition. In an Instagram with Baylon, Wurtzback wrote, “The inspiration! The one who made a statement! I applaud this girl for fighting for what she wants. That’s what it’s all about. Happy to know that we’ll be seeing Mirella again at the next Miss Peru pageant! Felicedades! Your presence alone on that stage made a huge statement globally. Congratulations ?”

At a press conference prior to the pageant, Wurtzback elaborated, saying, “We always talk about that we’re not just beautiful in the outside but also in the inside and that’s what exactly [Baylon] did.”

Though Baylon eventually lost out on the title of Miss Peru to fellow contestant Valerie Piazza, Wurtzbach’s Instagram implies that she’ll be competing again in 2017. Hopefully her persistence and success will inspire others to follow in her path, and help bring a new definition of “beauty” to a pageant that’s been sorely lacking in body diversity since it began more than six decades ago. 

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