Miss Canada Siera Bearchell participates in a swimwear fashion show in Cebu City, central Philippines on January 17, 2017. The Miss Universe pageant will be held on January 30. / AFP / NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
NOEL CELIS—AFP/Getty Images
By Julie Mazziotta / People
January 25, 2017

Siera Bearchell has gained weight since she made her pageant debut, and she’s proud of her body.

Bearchell will compete in the Miss Universe pageant on Sunday as Miss Canada, andfought back against critics who called her out on Instagram for gaining weight.

“I was recently asked, ‘What happened to you? Why have you gained weight? You are losing points.’ This was a reference to my body of course,” she writes on Instagram. “While I am first to say I am not as lean as I was when I was 16, 20, or even last year, but I am more confident, capable, wise, humble and passionate than ever before.”

Bearchell says she used to limit her diet in an unhealthy way.

“To be truthful, I restricted my food intake intensely at previous pageants and was miserable, self-conscious and I never felt good enough,” she admits in another post. “No matter how little I ate and how much weight I lost, I constantly compared myself to others and felt like I could still lose more. My mental perception did not match the physical body I saw in the mirror. There were days I would eat a protein bar, workout for hours and struggle to fall asleep because I as so hungry.”

She eventually realized that she was fighting her body’s true shape.

“My body is not naturally lean and that’s okay. I am healthy. I am fit. I am confident. I am me,” Bearchell says. “This is who I am right now and I’m okay with it, so you should be too.”

And Bearchell won’t let mean commenters bring her down.

“When you call me lazy, fat, and mediocre, what are you saying to the women of the world?” she asks. “I will not be brought down by shallow negativity. In fact, the negativity only fuels my fire to keep working on a platform that so evidently needs to be progressed.”

“I am secure and that’s what makes me beautiful.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

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