Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Emma Loney and I am a 23 year old law student, plus size model, and pageant titleholder. I am attending Northern Illinois University Law and graduated from Edgewood College where I double majored in Criminal Justice and Psychology. I hope to one day serve as a district attorney! I am also a huge advocate for body positivity and aim to show women of all ages that they do not need to conform to social ideals of body image to be confident and beautiful.
What is your story?
I never felt that I was “big”, but people in my life always told me otherwise. It was a constant battle of me being comfortable with how I looked and being told I was “gross” or “you don’t look how you think you do in that” or “the type of people you like will never like you looking like that” being told to me throughout my childhood and teenage years. Hearing that at such an impressionable age was extremely difficult. But, I figured I had the choice to believe what was said to me or to prove them wrong and I chose to prove them wrong.
You have had incredible success in pageants, winning several state titles and competing at the national level. How did you get started? How did competing impact your life?
I started competing when I was 16 and really fell in love with everything pageantry is. I loved the sisterhood, getting glammed up, being on stage, community service, and how it brings women together. I have met so many inspirational women that are truly making a difference through pageantry, along with my best friend. Pageantry has also given me so many opportunities I never would have dreamed of having before I started competing.
You mention that you felt “different” from others when competing, how did you overcome that? What advice do you have for women that may be feeling something similar?
After my first pageant, I realized that I was bigger than the other contestants. Even though I placed in the top 10 my first year, I felt I was at a disadvantage and I tried to change myself by losing weight and trying to be like the other girls when I came back to compete again the next year. I was not very successful the following year nor was I happy with everything I had done. I chose to then be true to myself and embrace who I was and what I looked like. I continued to still struggle after winning state titles and competing nationally because no matter how prepared I was, walking into a pageant as the biggest contestant would make me worry I might not even be considered because I was bigger. Even with those negative feelings, though, I continued to remain true to myself and embrace who I was even if it was not always accepted. Today, I am proud to represent curvy women in the pageant industry and push for acceptance and inclusion of different body types in pageantry. Women come in all shapes and sizes and their beauty is not determinant of their size.
You are an advocate for body positivity and eating disorder awareness, what inspired you to promote these topics?
When I first got started, my focus was on raising awareness for eating disorders. I was very passionate about raising awareness and educating others because my sister was hospitalized for a severe eating disorder. I, along with my family, did not understand the disorder and once we realized what was happening, it had manifested to a very severe state. I was scared and confused and spent a lot of my time doing research and learning as much as I could about the disorder. I knew that I wanted to teach others what I wish I had known before my sister got as sick as she did. As the years went on, I unknowingly started advocating for body positivity just by competing in pageantry and modeling as a curvy girl. Women and girls started to approach me and tell me I was inspiring to them and I couldn’t believe it. It was truly amazing to know just embracing who I was could make an impact on others and that is when I started focusing on showing women the importance of loving themselves for who they were through social media and other platforms.
What advice would you give to women who may be struggling with body positivity?
I always tell people what I say to myself: Don’t compare yourself to other people, they aren’t you. Your body has gone through everything you have both physically and mentally and it has done what it has needed to do to protect itself. Your beauty and worth is not determinant on your size, weight, clothing size, or what anyone else says. Being comfortable and embracing your body can be hard, but just remember that you are worthy and deserve to love every part of yourself.
Which of your achievements are you most proud of?
I am so proud of the impact I have been able to make in the body positivity movement. I never could have dreamed that I would be where I am today, and many years ago, would not have thought my voice even mattered. Knowing your voice matters, no matter the scale, is something I wish I realized sooner and something anyone and everyone should know.
Additionally, I am extremely proud of following my dreams and getting into law school. My whole life everyone has told me what I should do, who I should be, how I should look; and instead of following everything I was told to do, I did what I dreamed of instead. Getting into law school is the fruition of years of hard work, studying, research, failure, and sacrifice.
What are your future hopes and ambitions?
I want to continue to raise awareness for eating disorders along with promoting body positivity. My social media has been a great place to spread body positivity and I hope to continue to grow that platform and provide a page where people can feel inspired to embrace themselves. I also have recently been doing a lot of modeling and collaborations with body positive brands and hope to continue to build relationships with these brands. In the near future, I plan to start a blog to talk about my experiences, struggles, self-realization, inspiration for others, and more! I will also continue to compete in pageantry and hopefully inspire more women to compete and challenge beauty standards.
Regarding my career ambitions, I hope to one day become a district attorney in my home state of Wisconsin!
What does being Simply Unstoppable mean to you?
To me, it means that no matter what life throws at you, no matter what you are currently going through or have gone through in the past, no matter what physical or mental obstacles you may face, you can do anything. Nothing can stop you from following and accomplishing your dreams. If you believe in yourself, you are unstoppable.
Where can women find more resources on body positivity and eating disorder awareness?
The National Eating Disorder Association is an amazing resource for anyone interested in learning more about eating disorders, wanting to help raise awareness, and for those currently suffering from an eating disorder. There are phone numbers to call and text for immediate help, and a lot of literature and other resources. The most impactful thing, for me, in finding support and inspiration for body positivity is following body positive instagram pages and following blogs as well!
How can readers get in contact with you to continue this conversation?
My instagram is @emma.loney and I would love to continue this conversation through direct message or the email provided on my instagram page!