Who Is Miss Alabama 2024? Confusion Over a Plus-Sized Pageant Winner Leads to Backlash

A plus-sized pageant competitor won a local competition, but she apparently can't have nice things.

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author
By

Jun. 12 2024, Published 12:20 p.m. ET

Content warning: This article mentions suicide.

If you're still keeping track of the pageant circuit in 2024, then you've probably been watching the news on Miss America like a hawk. Every year, this event hosts over 50 women representing each U.S. state as they compete to fulfill nigh-impossible beauty standards to be crowned as the eponymous Miss America. The contest started in 1921 and is still going strong several decades later. The most recent event in 2024 crowned Madison Marsh aka Miss Colorado 2023 as Miss America for the year.

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The next official Miss America contest won't be held until early 2025, meaning that prospective competitors are likely already gearing up for the contest. Several months out from Miss America 2025, however, folks are already stirring up controversy over the title of Miss Alabama. Confusion over the title was sparked in early June 2024 and has resulted in several instances of body shaming online, as if pageant competitors didn't already deal enough with that kind of bullying. Who is Miss Alabama 2024? We break down the mix-up.

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There has been lots of confusion over the title of Miss Alabama. Let's clear the air.

In May 2024, plus-sized pageant competitor Sara Milliken was crowned as Miss National American Alabama 2024 in a local "National American Miss" contest that took place in her home state. Her victory could have easily been a good step forward for body positivity in the face of the unreasonably high standard of beauty to which society continues to subject women. However, her newly appointed title led to confusion among the press and outright hatred among pageant fans.

Many outlets misreported Sarah as "Miss Alabama," attributing her to the more renowned title of Miss Alabama USA or even as the Alabama rep for the annual Miss America contest (which are apparently two very different titles). As of this writing, the most recent Miss Alabama title holder is 2023's Brianna Burrell while Miss Alabama USA is held by Diane Westhoven.

Sarah's win had nothing to do with either of those contests, but the misattributed title has given rise to backlash and cyberbullying.

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Reportedly, Sara received several nasty comments on her social media in which folks shamed her for her weight and put her up against the impossible beauty standards for which national pageants are infamous. Comments on her posts have since been limited. However, Sarah took the time to respond.

"The things some people were saying truly was disgusting," Sarah shared in a post. "I choose not to dwell on that. However, there is an important [statement] to be had."

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"Victims of cyberbullying are twice more likely to engage in self harm and suicidal behaviors. ... I am blessed to report I am mentally at a great place and I am not experiencing these thoughts. However, this isn't the case for everyone. The best way to prevent this from happening is by simply spreading kindness."

She ultimately urged people to be kind and not engage in cyberbullying.

So for the record, Sarah won the title of National American Miss Alabama 2024, but has nothing to do with the titles of Miss Alabama or Miss Alabama USA which are two separate titles for two separate pageant circuits. As understandable as the mix-up might be, the subsequent backlash and cyberbullying that has stemmed from it is wildly unfounded and overall hurtful.

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call, text, or message the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Dial or text 988, call 1-800-273-8255, or chat via their website.

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