Miss USA 2023 relinquishes title due to mental health

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Noelia Voigt has resigned from her title as Miss USA 2023. She made the heartfelt announcement in a post on her Instagram Monday, saying, “I strongly value the importance of making decisions that feel best for you and your mental health.”

Voigt, a 24 year old model and licensed esthetician, has been vocal about mental health awareness in the past. In 2021, she wrote an anti-bullying children’s book called Maddie the BRAVE, inspired by Madison “Maddie” Whittsett, a 9-year-old girl who died by suicide in 2018 after being bullied. Voigt told Business Insider in 2023 she herself was bullied as a teenager once she started participating in pageants.

In addition to being an anti-bullying advocate on one of the largest pageant stages, Voigt also writes that getting to work with Smile Train, a nonprofit focused on corrective surgery for children with cleft lips and palates, and discussing dating violence awareness and prevention and immigration rights and reform were her favorite parts of holding the crown.

Voigt, who represented Utah, was crowned Miss USA in Sept. 2023. She’s the first Venezuelan-American woman to win the title.

“Never could I have imagined the journey that my childhood dream would take me on,” Voigt wrote.

“Constant and consistent hard work and dedication all [led] me to where I am today, and I hope that over the last seven years of […] sharing my journey with you all is something that inspires you to never give up on your dreams, whatever they may be.” 

In the caption of her post, Voigt adds, “Never compromise your physical and mental well-being. Our health is our wealth.” She then expressed “eternal gratitude” for the support of her family, friends, coaches, pageant directors, and fans.

Voigt’s mother wrote a comment showing her support for her daughter’s decision to relinquish the title. 

“As your mother, it has been a huge relief to see my Noelia’s personality restored. We are extremely proud of you for your selflessness in standing up for what is right while also prioritizing what is best for you. I observed how your personality changed and how your light faded. It broke our hearts. We are so happy today to see you being you again. Welcome home.”

Mental health and the crown

This is not the first time mental health has been a topic of discussion in relation to pageant winners.

In 2022, Miss USA 2019 Chelsie Kryst died by suicide at age 30. Kryst’s mother, April Simpkins, has since spoken about her daughter’s battle with depression and her feeling as though she was never good enough.

In her posthumous memoir––Kryst left her mother a note asking for her to publish it someday––Kryst wrote that she felt she “had to be perfect because I had to represent for all youth, women, and Black people who also wanted to be in the room but had been denied access.”

The book, By the Time You Read This, came out last month.

In a statement made to USA TODAY, The Miss USA Organization said, “We respect and support former Miss USA Noelia Voigt’s decision to step down from her duties. The well-being of our titleholders is a top priority, and we understand her need to prioritize herself at this time.”

The statement added, “The organization is currently reviewing plans for the transition of responsibilities to a successor and an announcement regarding the crowning of the new Miss USA will be coming soon.”

As for Voigt, she says she hopes people “stick around” to see what she does next.
“My hope is that I continue to inspire others to remain steadfast, prioritize your mental health, advocate for yourself and others by using your voice, and never be afraid of what the future holds, even if it feels uncertain,” she says.

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