She’s ‘plus-sized’ — and could be the next Miss New Jersey USA
When Messalina Morley goes clothes shopping, she can be anywhere from a size 6 to a size 12.
Now she wants to show that girls can be beautiful no matter what size they are as she enters this weekend's Miss New Jersey USA pageant.
Morley, 20, of Ridgewood said at the pageant this weekend, which is being held at the Hilton Parsippany Hotel, she'd "love to win" — but is hoping to do more than compete.
I'm just hoping to show girls that you don't have to be a cliched size or shape to compete in a beauty pageant," she said. "There's been a lot of change in people's minds and attitudes in the past few years."
With models like Ashley Graham breaking barriers for "plus-sized" models, Morley said there has "been a lot of change in people's minds and attitudes in the past few years about what's considered beautiful."
Morley said she hopes to show young girls they shouldn't be afraid think of themselves as beautiful if they are size six or above.
She said she has seen the challenges girls above a certain size can face.
"Clothing size is so irregular that you end up feeling confused," she said. "I modeled in the city and I was considered a plus-size because I was above a size six. Now I like to consider myself a curvy person."
Morley said she does not identify herself as "plus-sized" because there are lots of "negative connotations towards that word."
Last year, the Miss New Jersey USA pageant made history when Chavvi Verg became the first South Asian woman to wear the tiara. Now, Morley says, she hopes she can make her own bit of history.
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"I think it would show how diverse and welcoming the pageant is," she said of the possibility she could win. "I think it would also show the world that women's attitudes towards beauty have changed because everyone feels they can compete and enjoy themselves."
According to a study by the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, the average size for a woman in the United States is between a Misses 16 and 18. As a result, the study's authors "suggested that updating Misses and Plus-size clothing standards should be a major priority."
Morley entered her first beauty pageant when she was 16 years old after an anonymous friend recommended her.
"I had seen things in the news and thought it looked it looked cool, but never considered myself for it," she said. "I had a really good time and made a bunch of friends."
When she is not competing in pageants, Morley is pursuing an acting career after graduating from the New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts.
The Miss USA Pageant is part of the Miss Universe organization, which was formerly owned by President Donald Trump. Last year while Trump was the nominee for the Republican Party, he disparaged a former Miss Universe for gaining weight after winning the title.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com