UNO Grad Takes on Beauty Industry with Miss America Social Impact Initiative

Omaha, Neb. – A 23-year-old University of Nebraska Omaha graduate and University of Nebraska College of Law student is taking on the beauty industry when she competes for the title of Miss Nebraska America June 12. Katie Leu Hoatson, a law clerk at the Lincoln County Public Defender’s Office, was inspired to use pageantry to change the way society views beauty after nearly undergoing weight loss surgery at the age of 16.

“I was moments away from getting it and the doctor told me, ‘You know, I don't feel comfortable with it because you're so young,’” Hoatson said. “And at the time, I was truly devastated. I honestly thought it was normal to have the surgery. I thought, “You know, bigger people get weight loss surgery and it fixes everything.’”



Hoatson said afterward she did what 50 percent of young girls do - she resorted to unhealthy diet restrictions to lose weight, resulting in becoming ill and nearly unable to walk to class.

“I was using unhealthy weight control behaviors and whenever I ate, I felt guilty. I felt like I was a bad person,” she said. “It was the first time I had ever really started to lose weight, but it wasn't in a healthy way, but the world was applauding my self-destruction. And all my friends, all the adults in my life were like ‘Go, Katie, you're doing so good, you're being so healthy, you're doing this for you.’ I’d never felt more unhealthy in my life. I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs. I knew then that the injustice that plus-size people feel in society needs to be addressed. Then ‘Courageous with Confidence’ was born.”

Hoatson will compete for Miss Nebraska America June 10-12 in North Platte where she graduated from Hershey High School in 2016. Her goal is to destroy the beauty standard, promote health at every size, and eating disorder awareness. She also hopes to show other young girls that beauty is not a size.

“I’ve been in the top 5 in other national pageants before and I always thought that my public speaking or social impact is what would have inspired young girls, and it does, but it still shocks me when little girls come up to me afterward and say, ‘Just you being here, just looking at someone who looks like me, has made such a big difference,’” Hoatson said.

Being considered a plus-sized competitor and a model signed by Gaia Models, Hoatson has also received many non-supportive comments.

“In our society, we treat higher-weight people like they're lazy and disgusting, as if it’s some self-control issue,” she said. “But the truth is, lower-weight bodies have these issues as well. Lower-weight bodies get out of breath, have high blood pressure, have high cholesterol, and they can go to the doctor and get medication for it. A person who is higher-weight will be told to lose weight, which we see has a 95 percent failure rate. Eighty percent of women have cellulite, but just 0.1 percent have a law degree - what if that was something we applauded?”