An Atmore woman who won a state pageant is getting a lot of attention, but not in the way she probably hoped.

Sara Milliken worked for eight years to win the title of Miss National American Alabama. Finally, in 2024, after three attempts, she was crowned in May. She was interviewed by WKRG in Mobile and that’s when her story went viral.

People instantly began to point out the obvious — Milliken is obese.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity has doubled worldwide since the 1990s, and that hasn't been helped by “Big and Beautiful” campaigns, which encourage young girls and women to stay fat. In 2017, around 4.7 million people died of obesity. It also causes chronic disease that impacts quality of life.

Despite the risks, there are still "body and fat-positive" influencers on platforms such as TikTok. Several of those influencers have died.

A week after Milliken appeared on WKRG, the station did another story about what they called cyberbullying and called it their “#1 story.” They also called her "Miss Alabama," which is not her title.

“How many days in a row are you going to report something on her?” asked Jordan Evans on Facebook. “Your credibility as a professional news agency is coming into question.”

National outlets quickly jumped on the bandwagon, continuing to call Milliken “Miss Alabama.” However, the misrepresentation of the title has gotten the attention of many people, including former Miss Alabama Amie Beth Shaver.

Shaver explained that there is only one Miss Alabama title, and that is for the pageant that sends competitors to Miss America. There is also Miss Alabama USA, which sends contestants to the Miss USA pageant.

“Miss America now is 101 years old and then Miss USA, which goes on the Miss Universe pageant,” Shaver said. “But this National American Miss, no one has heard of it. I don't even know what it is.”

Shaver said Miss America owns the rights to the “Miss Alabama” title, so it is improper to use that title for another pageant.

“If you are a pageant person, you're only going to participate in either Miss America or Miss USA,” Shaver added.

The National American Miss pageant awards winners with scholarships, self-care products and other prizes. The program is based on positive self-image.

Milliken responded on Instagram to some of the comments about her weight.

“The things some people were saying truly was disgusting,” she wrote. “I choose not to dwell on that. However, there is an important to be had and I feel that as a titleholder it would be extremely irresponsible for me not to address the ‘second part’ of this story.”

“I feel often times people resort to Cyberbullying because it doesn’t feel real,” she continued. “It’s just words on a screen right? It can’t possibly cause physical harm? Wrong. Victims of cyberbullying are twice more likely to engage in self harm and suicidal behaviors.”

While she said she didn’t have suicidal thoughts herself, she reminded those who are to call 988 for help.

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