I saw a quote once that said “Behind every successful woman, there is a tribe of other successful women who have her back” I never really understood it until I entered the pageant world. Before I competed, I assumed that women would be catty and super competitive. I worried that as I wasn’t conventionally beautiful and I most definitely didn’t fit in the typical pageant girl stereotype that I would be made to feel awkward or unwelcome. How wrong could I have been! I was embraced with open arms, welcomed into a community of like-minded, strong and inspirational women. Women who looked just like me, women who looked different to me, one thing in common; they all had stories to tell. My connections to these women grew over time, they weren’t just fellow contestants all gunning for the same coveted title – they had become family.
I think in this day and age and with so much pressure in social media to be “perfect” the need for women to stand strong beside each other, building each other up instead of tearing each other down is extremely necessary, if not vital. Especially for the younger generation. I want my children to not feel burdened by the pressure of conforming to societies warped ideals. I want them to grow up free, liberated enough to feel that being different and unique is to be celebrated not hidden away. That starts with us, the women of today who are able to shout loud that we are not here to compete with each other, there is plenty space for everyone to succeed in life and be happy. I want to support those around me to achieve their dreams and feel inspired enough to help others do the same. Pageants aren’t all about “World Peace” and just being “beautiful” to me it’s about so much more. It’s about spreading love and positivity and supporting others whilst building a community of empowered women who want to empower others.
So I spent time talking to some of the women who competed in the finals of the UK’s largest Plus Size pageant, Miss British Beauty Curve. I wanted their insight into the experience of competing. I asked them to tell me how being in this environment made them feel.
Here’s what some of them had to say…
Q – How does it feel to have women support other women?
Hollie – It’s honestly overwhelming to be surrounded by a massive support system when social media is constant competition as to who is the best looking or who has the best clothing. It’s nice to feel a part of something, like one big family! You can be yourself and know that no one is going to try and compete against you but compete with you. It’s beautiful to see girls come out of their shells due to the support of other women; it’s honestly heart warming to know that not everything in life is a competition and you can feel a part of something amazing; even inspire other people.
Shannon – It feels amazing to have support from each other, I see so many people get torn down by the media and society because they don’t look like somebody else’s idea of beautiful so it’s important for us all to support each other because sometimes when we don’t feel beautiful there’s girls that will help you realise you are and when you need that support there’s always somebody there that’s willing to help and support you.
Amy O – The support of other women especially those who are going through what you are is the heart of Miss British Beauty Curve, it’s what encourages some to apply, to keep going when things get tough and for them to turn up one the day! Without the support of the other ladies this pageant wouldn’t be unique and special, filled with love and emotion from day one.
Isha – Well I have always been very conscious of my weight and how I look, being the biggest out of 4 sisters where all of my sister’s are size 8. Only in recent years have I begun to embrace my body as I believe it’s so important that I be a positive role model for my three daughters and show them the importance of loving yourself. MBBC is an amazing pageant that promotes diversity and confidence. Any organisation that allows us plus size/curve ladies to be us I’m behind it 100%.
Sarah – I’ve always been quite comfortable with my body shape and just really got on with life, never really venturing too far from my ‘safe’ space or putting myself out there much. I expected to be met with a group of catty women, only really interested in themselves or own little ‘cliques’ but was instead met with open arms, by a group of women who were whooping and clapping each other on stage, encouraging at every step of the way (especially back stage when outfit and make up choices were met with ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’) and who I think will be my new pals for life! When there is so much hatred on the internet if you don’t fit in to a certain mould (whether it be shape, size, the colour of your skin or your sexual preference) everyone needs encouragement to just shine, because the world would be a pretty sad place if we were all the same.
Gemma – I think it is fantastic how supportive everyone was at the pageant and still is I honestly feel we are all connected now like a family and no matter what we go through in “normal” day to day life we always have someone to fall back on. Pageant sisters aren’t friends their family!
Amy – To have the support of my MBBC girls is so important and such a breath of fresh air. Throughout my life it’s seemed like girls had been taught that they had to compete with each other and knock each other down to build their own self confidence but with MBBC this is not the case at all! All these wonderful, strong women support and empower each other and this is how it should be though your entire life. This is so important, every women needs a strong, stable support network to build self confidence and body confidence. If the world had more women like this it would be a much better place.
Kelly – I often see a quote floating around online saying “empowered women empower women” and never have I seen this in action more than I did on Saturday when I was participating in MBBC. I’m pretty sure within 5 minutes online you could find a dozen people happy to insult you or try and pull you down but what if instead we raised each other up. Individually we can achieve amazing things but just imagine how great we could be together.
Charlotte – I believe that pageant systems like MBBC are so important because of the camaraderie that it promotes. Every girl there knows what you have been through as a plus size girl. In some cases they know you better than you know yourself. When I came to the pageant in 2015, I was expecting it to be bitchy, competitive and unpleasant and instead I found family.
Louise – I have never been so overwhelmed as what I was to be surrounded by so many inspirational ladies on Saturday. At one point someone said “If I hear anyone saying anything negative about themselves they’ll be getting a punch in the boob!” Everyone comes from different backgrounds but with the same goal in mind; changing opinions on those who are a size 14+. Therefore everyone was there to support everyone when they needed it, that’s what we need more of in life in general instead of knocking each other down. We can tear ourselves down enough, we don’t need others to do it too.
Emily Blake – Miss British Beauty Curve 2014/15 – Wow, Miss British Beauty Curve 2017 was incredible and yet again it changed lives. It is vital in my opinion that we all support each other, not only does it make you feel good from sharing the love but you never know quite how much of an impact your supportive words and actions can have. People often struggle to accept compliments for example yet negativity is easily received and digested, so we need to push the positivity even more! When women support each other women become unstoppable and it feels immensely empowering.
Nicola – I loved the experience of Miss British Beauty Curve it was such a positive change to watch girls empowering each other, complimenting each other and genuinely happy to help each other no matter what the issues were. It’s what this place needs if all the girls on this planet treated each other like they did in this pageant like on a night out in the girl’s bathroom this world would be a better place. It’s important because you never know what anyone is going through. Those unkind words or dirty looks could be the push over the edge someone doesn’t need. A smile uses a lesser amount of muscles in the face than a frown and nobody wants the extra facial work!
Rebecca – Girls supporting girls is important because as a whole, females are oppressed by the masses. We are constantly belittled and scrutinised by the media, our peers, strangers, family members, ourselves, so why not support one another? Why do we need to tear each other to feel better about ourselves? Why do we need to compare ourselves to one another? Why can’t we accept who we are, and who people are and support in each into growing into the best versions of ourselves? I’ve never felt happier than I have since becoming a feminist and realising girls are not my enemies, that we really do need to stick together and empower one another, because, after all the future is female. Gaining hundreds of sisters through forums, MBBC, social media, has been absolutely mind blowing for me and I feel like I am more confident in myself knowing that I stand side by side with my sisters, not against. That’s why MBBC was brilliant. I wasn’t competing; I was playing dress up with some beautiful women and having a brilliant time doing so.
Emily Diapre – Miss British Beauty Curve 2017/18 – Being around women who have gone through similar experiences to each other is incredibly uplifting. An event like Miss British Beauty Curve is an excellent example of this; it has created countless life-long friendships and unforgettable experiences. I could only wish for more events similar to Miss British Beauty Curve.
These women are all right – the world needs more of this. Empower other women, don’t criticise one another, compliment each other, be kind, lift them up. It’s such an exhilarating feeling to know that you have just made someone else’s day by spreading a little love. BUT, all that being said you must look after number 1 (yourself) too. So instead of looking at yourself in a negative way and tearing yourself down as you feel like you are not good enough, please know that YOU ARE ENOUGH – You will ALWAYS be ENOUGH. You do not need to be anything other than yourself and the negative opinions of others mean nothing. Do YOU, live life to the fullest, with no regrets. Try new things, step outside of your comfort zone and embrace the body you have in all the glory that it is. Life is too short to not LIVE it. Enjoy it, while you can.
Ms British Beauty Curve 2015/16