Sometimes being normal is exceptional—just ask Mekayla Diehl.
"Miss Indiana Mekayla Diehl became the social media phenomenon of the Miss USA 2014 pageant when she revealed a bikini body that actually dared to look perfectly normal on Sunday night."
"Miss USA 2014: Stunning Miss Indiana Mekayla Diehl's 'Normal' Body Applauded on Twitter During Swimsuit Competition"
"Miss USA Contestant Flaunts 'Normal' Bikini Bod and Twitter Explodes"
"Miss Indiana Mekayla Diehl praised for 'normal' body at Miss USA 2014 show"
Miss Indiana USA Mekayla Diehl became the toast of Twitter when she appeared in the swimsuit segment of the Miss USA pageant, with TV viewers expressing their delight at a figure that was deemed "normal."
"Normal," of course is a relative term. If Diehl strode onto any beach wearing a bikini, she would no doubt turn heads. But many pageant fans have, evidently, grown sick of the over-slender look that seems de rigeur for all contestants. Tweeters embraced Diehl because she is "not a complete twig," and "not a bag of bones," and not "crazy skinny." Media coverage included an appearance, earlier today, on Good Morning America.
Though she won hearts and minds on social media, and made the final 20 in the contest, Diehl didn't win Miss USA.
A key detail has been nearly lost amid the frenzy over her "normal"-ness: Diehl is Ojibwe, a member of the Ontario-based Zhiibaahaasing First Nation. She was born in Elkhart, Indiana, and her mother now lives on the Canadian reserve (and although her aboriginal roots reach above the U.S.-Canada border, she defines herself as Native American rather than First Nations, perhaps because she is a U.S. citizen). As a young girl, Diehl suffered sexual abuse, and both her parents had drug problems. Diehl's grandmother and other members of the community remained supportive of her, and she was ultimately adopted.
Both Diehl, who is the first Native American Miss Indiana USA, and her mother have found fortitude in returning to their Native culture. "I’m active with my Ottawa tribe and I’m on my Native American reservation taking lessons with the medicine man trying to level my plate," Diehl said, in a profile posted to the website of her alma mater, Albion College. "I need to make sure all four elements—mental, emotional, physical and spiritual—are balanced."