At size 14, Paoala Torrente broke beauty pageant ideals when she was crowned runner-up in the Miss Italy competition earlier this month.
Despite support from fans all over the world, the 22-year-old model was the target of haters who brutally body shamed her, with many saying she was "too fat" to be a beauty queen.
According to The Daily Mail, Torrente was "ridiculed by other contestants and trolled on social media over her size after she came second in the competition."
The mother of third-place winner Viviana Vogliacco bitterly told the media that Torrente should have never been allowed to participate in the competition, noting she should be in the "Plus-Size Miss Italy contest" instead of a "mainstream event."
Fellow model Nina Moric also called out Torrente and was quoted saying Torrente has "too much flesh." Moric has denied saying this, blaming her controversial words on translation issues. But according to The Daily Mail, Italian beauty pageant's organizers actually called Moric on live television and forced her to apologize for her vicious comments.
Despite the cruelty surrounding her, Torrente, an engineering student from Angri, south of Naples, is keeping positive and confident.
"I embrace my curves at 360 degrees, and I'm never ashamed of them," the runner-up said in an interview with The Daily Mail. "I want to tell young women to accept themselves and to understand that feeling good and being happy is the most powerful thing to fight people's words and thoughts."
And the most rewarding part of the Miss Italy experience for Torrente? The messages of support from girls just like her.
"I started to receive messages from girls who thanked me for participating, for showing that curvy is beautiful and thanks to me, felt better about themselves."
The young model also notes that despite the backlash of body shaming that came from the competition, she does believe the pageant world is improving.
"Now, a lot of girls that don't fit the beauty ideal of tall and skinny compete. That's a really good thing, it means mentality is changing," she said.
Breaking down stereotypes ... that's what we like to see in the beauty world!