The Miss Arizona pageant may not be as innocent as previously assumed. A former winner of the pageant, Miss Arizona 2015 Madi Esteves, has revealed concerning information about the beauty pageant.
Madi Esteves, along with two other contestants, reveal that they were belittled, bullied and forced to lie by organizers.
“The Miss Arizona organizers didn’t want to hear what I wanted to do. They didn’t allow me to be myself. … It was: ‘You do as we say,’ ” says Esteves. “I got a glimpse of what it feels like to be silenced and feel like you don’t have a voice.”
Esteves says the organizers forced her to lie about her education, change the name of her charitable foundation, and alter her appearance in ways that made her uncomfortable.
Pageant organizers deny the claims, and they say she is misrepresenting the facts. However,
Miss Yuma County 2013 Ashley Vicks and Miss Navajo County 2015 Abrianna Swanson say they experienced similar treatment.
Esteves says organizers forced her to say she was a junior at ASU even though she had only attended community college. She also reveals they suggested she lose weight, even though she was already at a healthy size, and they airbrushed her images to hide moles. They even encouraged her to change the name of her charitable organization from “Don’t ‘Diss’ Abilities” to “Empowering Individuals With Disabilities.”
The executives didn’t give her a choice in any of these changes. “It wasn’t, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?'” she says. “It was, ‘Hey, this is going to happen.'”
Pageant officials say Esteves’ accusations are misrepresentations, and they would never force a contestant to change their looks or anything else.
“We made numerous attempts throughout her year of service to engage in healthy, constructive dialogue,” says Herd, a Miss Arizona organizer. “We made tremendous effort while she was Miss Arizona to be collaborative. And we were met with sometimes a great, positive attitude and many times with resistance.”
Esteves hopes her letter will encourage other contestants to make a change. In the meantime, she has moved on to the type of work she wanted to do as Miss Arizona. She has incorporated her nonprofit organization, and she has published a children’s book, Boy On A Swing.