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Miss Mexico Andrea Meza was crowned the new Miss Universe on Sunday night.
Meza told Insider that she believes it's her duty to let young girls know that she's not perfect.
Meza said she was bullied in high school and found her confidence through beauty pageants.
Andrea Meza is the new Miss Universe, and she believes it's her duty to let young girls know that she's not perfect.
Meza spoke with Insider the morning after taking home the crown on Sunday night, where she gave a final statement about society's beauty standards.
The 26-year-old software engineer may be a pageant queen, but Meza said she was plagued with insecurities about her looks for many years.
"When I was in high school I had a really rough time," she said. "I was being bullied. I was a little chubby and I didn't feel pretty at all. But it wasn't just what people said about me, but what I was telling myself. I would say, 'Oh, you're not as pretty as the other girls, you're not worth it.' And that conversation I was having with myself was only bringing me down."
Meza loved watching beauty pageants when she was growing up, but she also couldn't help but compare herself to the women she saw on stage.
Now that she's Miss Universe, Meza wants to make sure she's inspiring young girls instead.
"I think our duty as beauty queens is, yeah, of course you can look pretty and wonderful, but our duty is to let the other girls watching us know that we are not perfect," she said. "That we are just like them, and they could perfectly be in the spot we are right now. But you have to believe in yourself. You're not going to make a change in your life if you don't truly believe in yourself."
Meza said she worked hard to push herself out of her comfort zone so that she could find the confidence to express herself and her opinions.
And everything really changed when a friend secretly filled out an application for Meza to take part in a pageant for her university.
"He filled out the application form without telling me and he said, 'OK, it's done, you cannot get out of it. You have to do this because we all think you're capable of doing this, and the only one that does not believe that is you,'" she recalled.
"And so I did it, and that's when I fell in love with it and when I realized I was made for this," she said. "I like to believe that these pageants changed my life, and I'm a better person because of them."
Meza said she's "felt liberated" by the world of beauty pageants. Now, as Miss Universe, she hopes to be a role model.
"For me, it's a realization of my dreams because I have admired women in this position for a long time," she said. "And being here and having this opportunity means a lot to me. Now I have the platform to inspire girls just like me 10 years ago."
Read the original article on Insider