Miss Arkansas contestants strive for healthy body image in swimsuit

The 2014 Miss Arkansas pageant is underway this week in Hot Springs.

46 young women are competing for the crown and a chance at Miss America, through categories including interview, talent and the sometimes-controversial swimsuit competition.

Just last week at the Miss USA Pageant, Miss Indiana was praised across the internet for showing her "normal pageant body." She is a size 4 and the average American woman is a size 14. "I did see her I thought she looked fabulous," said Samantha Hudon, Miss Frisco Springs. Many say Miss Indiana USA ushered in a new era for that portion of the competition, changing the industry standard from "skinny" to "healthy." As Miss Arkansas 2013 Amy Crain points out, the Miss America Pageant began in 1921 as a swimsuit only competition. "I do think it's really important we let people know that health is a part of this. It's staying physically fit. Not necessarily skinny, or a size zero or anything like that," said Crain. Several of the Miss Arkansas contestants this year have platforms about positive body image, including Miss Spirit of Arkansas Loren McDaniel. She says her attitude about the swimsuit competition changed from her first competing to this year. "This is my second year to compete. Last year I kind of had the mentality that I was competing against other people's bodies. But as I really realized this platform is me as a person, I've realized today that when I get up there in my swimsuit, I'm representing how I feel good in my skin and that I'm proud of the hard work ethic I have put into that swimsuit body and I'm going to rock out and feel confident because I know I've put my best foot forward," McDaniel said. After rehearsals on Friday, the girls had a luncheon with the diamond princesses, young girls who the contestants mentor all week. Contestant Abby Lindsey, Miss OBU says having those little girls around is an even bigger reason to promote a healthy body image. "I got chicken nuggets, I ate rice. I'm not afraid of it and I'm doing swimsuit tonight," Lindsey said. "You know I think it's cool we have the princess program in general, not only that we get to hang out with these girls but that even at the lunch table we can show them be confident in who you are."Channel 7 News will have the results of the 2014 Miss Arkansas Pageant Saturday on Nightside. The pageant is hosted by Channel 7 Daybreak's Chris Kane.