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Miss Indiana Mekayla Diehl On Her 'Normal' Body, Overcoming Sexual Abuse

( [email protected] ) Jun 10, 2014 03:00 PM EDT
Miss Indiana Mekayla Diehl didn't win the Miss America pageant, but she won the hearts of Americans around the country due to her "normal" bikini body. Although she experienced a troubled childhood, Diehl says her story encourages young girls to overcome even the toughest obstacles and achieve their dreams.
Elkhart's Mekayla Diehl made it to the Top 20 of the Miss USA competition before being eliminated following the swimsuit portion of the competition The Miss America Pageant

Even though she didn't win the title of Miss USA, the image of Miss Indiana Mekayla Diehl is being posted all over the internet with fans praising her "normal" bikini body.

Diehl, who made it to the top 20 before being eliminated following the swimsuit portion of the competition, wowed viewers during with her curvy, healthy-looking frame. Although the crown went to Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez, social media instantly came alive with admiration for 25 year old Diehl.  

"S/o to Miss Indiana for having a normal/relatable body," posted a user named Taylor Sistek.

"Miss Indiana is gorgeous. I'm SO sick of body talk, fat talk, skinny talk, etc. Wish our society would just stop," posted another who goes by the name "SS."

The beauty queen says she simply strives to be healthy and works hard on her body-but never takes it to the extreme.

"It's quite overwhelming, in a positive way," Diehl told Fox & Friends. "I wanted to just continue a healthy lifestyle and inspire others to go after their dreams," she said. "I never imagined that it would be in a swimsuit."

"I trained very hard for the body I have, but I didn't go to extremes, and I'm proud of that," she continued.

In an interview with an Indiana radio station, Diehl revealed that the road to Miss Indiana was a long one, as she experienced trauma at a very young age.  

"I was 8 years old when I was sexually abused," she told WNDU. "Very quickly after that we moved in with my grandmother and eventually was adopted."

However, through the encouragement of her Christian grandmother, Diehl was able to overcome significant obstacles.

"At first I was sad. And then I found my outlets. My grandmother was very encouraging. Anything that I wanted to try to do, she tried to find the best way. I had horses. We tried 4-H, I tried saddle club. Dancing was my emotional outlet. I loved to dance, and that became my emotional release."

Her grandmother Katie Sautter agreed, telling the station, "We got through it. By the grace of God we got through it."

Now, Diehl hopes to encourage young girls to pursue their dreams and view themselves as beautiful, regardless of their size.

"I hope [young girls] can look at me and see that, yes, I'm a pageant girl, but I had a dream and I worked very, very hard for it. And I didn't let my past define me."