Things have been changing in my life recently and a good way. Last week, literally on a whim after an ad popped up in my facebook feed for the Miss Plus Size International Competition. I did this on the last day of the competition, with about 2 hours to the deadline, because I just thought it would be fun, and there would be no “Oh I wish I had done it” moment later on.
Imagine to my surprise, on the first of September, when I got an email saying I had been selected for an interview! Yes, little old me, selected for an entry for a Beauty Pageant.
Having seen Miss Congeniality, American’s Next Top Model, and Miss World, and with the latter these woman are so well trained in what they should say, instead of what they want to say, it strips them of any personality they actually have.
I was expecting an environment of nastiness, bitchiness and someone standing there proclaiming that they “Weren’t here to make friends.” Also, when I looked at the details, I had a feeling it would be like the aforementioned ANTM, and everything down to my walk would be scrutinised. Since I was clueless at what to wear, I did however head down to Yours Clothing in Uxbridge and treated myself to this gorgeous Kimono top in my signature colours of purple, black and red, paired with a purple vest since I need to get more colour in my life!
When I finally got to Aldgate, and ventured down to Le Paris Grill a very nice restaurant and I saw the other entrants and what they were wearing; now I got nervous. They were all dressed to perfection, with immaculate makeup. (I brought mine with me and put it on in the toilets…yes, I do own makeup!) And they were all wearing heels, something I still can’t do, so I decided to wear the above, with jeans and trainers. I walked in with a feeling of inadequacy; everyone looked stunning…and I was wearing jeans.
So how do I look?
After I had a quick word with the judges, if it was alright to blog about this later…obviously they said yes, and a massive thank you right now for saying so. I was given a list of questions, they could potentially ask me, and we were all divided into groups of four and assigned numbers, and I was given the number 16, which meant that I was the final contestant of the day. In our group, we all introduced ourselves to each other, and I was placed with Scarlett, who has experience in graphic design, Jenny who is a body artist and Eva who has experience working as a model and actress. After we got to know each other, since we had more time being in the latter part of the groups to do so, we discussed our potential answers and I learned that their all very talented and creative individuals, but with no trace of ego between them which was not what I was expecting at all.
When we were escorted down, since we were first being interviewed together I knew at this point I should have been nervous but with these woman sitting next to me, I wasn’t. They all answered all their questions eloquently and brilliantly and it wasn’t like an interview with the four judges but more like a casual relaxed conversation, and when they got to me I didn’t have any pretence. I just told them about my life, my accident and my projects and things like that, and the fact that I was feeling underdressed was no longer an issue. Yes, I’m deliberately not going into too much detail because the competition is still ongoing.
As a plus size woman you’re naturally made to feel like a failure, in media and market press it always says the same message. If you’re big there is something wrong with you, you are stupid; you are lazy, and you deserve the jibes thrown at you, because your skin’s so thick it surely can’t penetrate into your soul. In all the inspirational magazines, you have someone like Adele who’s celebrated for her curves, but only has a head shot on the front cover. Even our most famous actresses bear this scrutiny; Jennifer Love Hewitt apparently lost her dream role on Criminal Minds, because she hadn’t lost the weight after giving birth fast enough. Academy Award Winner Jennifer Laurence has been condemned because according to some readers and of course the media with regards to The Hunger Game “Katniss is too fat”.
This sadly can go both ways, many actors have had to change themselves for the roles they crave, but when a certain actor who in the past has been celebrated for their curves, and proclaiming how much they love their bodies. To then lose a large amount of weight in a way that cannot be considered healthy, and instead of saying something truthful in a heartfelt way, and claim that they have lost it for whatever reason, be it for health, or the role that can finally secure them an Oscar. Instead they denounce their bodies back then, claiming how fat and unhappy they were at a size 14 and of course now their more beautiful/successful/happy. Insert your own phrase. All this negativity has a huge impact on us, growing up we could never be ourselves, having to develop the thick skin early, to make people like us. To go into school on the first day, too see the ones who would be friends with us, and to try to make them laugh with us instead of at us, to the point you become a walking Beryl Cook caricature.
But then again as a 5 foot, (until a growth spurt when I was 17) messy haired, glasses wearing, introvert, I didn’t stand a chance otherwise. Having to become when people expected of me, instead of whom I truly was and still am. Outside, I’m fun loving, and passionate and ok those are traits I do possess, yet at home I’m the quiet one, normally found with her head in a book or behind her laptop, creating masterpieces like this one.
End of the day this is the world we grew up in made to feel like failures because we’re not a size zero. And this is what I was feeling as I walked in, in jeans, trainers trying to hide the fact that I was limping slightly, and surrounded by beautiful woman.
Afterwards, before we were being seen individually, which led to a bit of a waiting game, which was also cool because I had some time to process things, I began to think about why I was there. According to the email sent to me, I had been chosen from 740 applicants…so why had I been chosen?
I’m not writing that, just to stoke my ego, as I try not to have one but at the same time…is there more to me than I’m even aware of?
Being a plus size woman, we’re taught once again courtesy of the media that we are lacking somewhat in some areas, to the point when I have dared to ask the question “Do I look pretty?” The answers I usually receive, only focuses on one aspect of my person, being told I have nice eyes (that maybe true), I have great lips (that is true) and the usual, I have a great personality…well that’s always nice. If you’re going to reduce me to mere body parts, instead of answering “yes or no”, and I could take the latter by the way, then what am I meant to think?
But they choose me as an interviewee, deep down as an ego boost, it’s pretty high as these things go, and I guess has given me some perspective on the last year of my life. Nothing will ever change the fact that I disappeared on the 26th of September 2013, and what was left was a struggle to try to get myself back to where I needed to be, to be able to stand tall once more, and as I was standing there, that part of me started to emerge…and it felt fantastic. What I’m typing right now whilst feeling a massive swell of pride within myself, on Saturday I did something I could never have imagined doing, I stood there and did something just for me…and it still feels fantastic.
Being the last one to be interviewed and the last one to leave, and there are still the overseas and the Birmingham interviews to get through. After I post this I’m deliberately not going to think any more of it, but having met so many fantastic woman on that day, if my experience of Missplussize ends at this moment, then I’m ok with that. Just to be there felt like an accomplishment and I left the place on a massive high note. Can I just sincerely say to the other contestants, good luck and you are all going to do brilliantly.