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October 3, 2014
Big year ahead for plus-size beauties

All three title holders in the Vincentian installment of Miss Plus Size Universe will have an eventful reign this year.

During an evening of pageantry at the Cruise Ship Terminal on September 27, Shanell Dougan-Findlay was crowned Miss Plus Size Universe, while Clarissa Edwards and La Feisha Haywood {{more}}walked away with the first and second runner-up titles respectively.

Promoter Pearl Williams visited SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday with the plus-size beauties to reveal the exciting adventures that lay ahead for the ladies.

“I feel very confident working with these girls,” Williams said. “For this entire year, my three girls will be reigning. The winner will not be reigning alone, but she would have her two runners-up. They will be reigning because, of course, they are now carrying the title of Miss St Vincent, all three of them.”

Williams explained that each of the women will be participating in plus size pageants, both regionally and internationally.

Like Miss Plus Size Universe, these shows are geared toward empowering women in the community, who may have a low self-esteem for many reasons, which include their body size.

“I would like to say to the public, refrain from bringing a show of empowerment to their common thought because each girl over the last 15 years will tell you what their accomplishments were and it was very nice,” the promoter said while noting that her franchise has been around for over 23 years.

“Let the people who don’t know about the history of this pageant try to Google and see the accomplishment and stop talking nonsense on the street. Our girls already have low self-esteem for whatever reason or the other and what we are trying to do is empower the women of our society. Not only food makes you fat, but you can be plus sized and healthy.”

For the contestants, the show has helped them tremendously by building self-esteem and teaching them to deal with criticism.

“The experience I must say was great. I have learned to accept and deal with criticism right on the spot. It has helped me to develop a more mature state of mind with challenges,” reigning queen, Dougan-Findlay said.

For her hard work on the night of the show, the queen walked away with Best African Wear and Best Evening Wear, as well as a scholarship to the Ephraim Hunte International Make-Up Academy in Trinidad.

Dougan-Findlay will also represent St Vincent and the Grenadines in the international version of Miss Plus Size in Trinidad on January 4, 2015.

First runner-up Edwards received Best Introduction and Best Interview and was rewarded with a trip to St Lucia for three nights.

“It’s something that I have always been looking forward to, because I have liked entering pageants of this nature, once it’s clean,” the runner-up said about her pageant experience.

“Me, being in pageants give me a greater opportunity to become an ambassador for my country.”

Edwards, who has taken part in a number of pageants previously, including Miss SVG 2001 and Miss East St George, will represent her country in another plus-size pageant in Tennessee.

Also, second-runner up Haywood will compete in Miss Plus Size Universe in Tortola during the upcoming year.

“I have gained a lot of experience, where I’ve met a lot of friendly contestants and a lot of people who I never really knew before. Also it gave me the opportunity to show my skill and ability that I have inside and I’m looking forward to going to Tortola and represent Miss Plus Size Universe in another show and I would love to take part in other activities,” she said.

The promoter told SEARCHLIGHT that sponsorship is an important part of pageants and is urging local businesses to come on board to support the contestants.

“Sponsorship is one of the things that we are asking for. Nothing will be possible if we don’t have good sponsorship and we’re asking the business houses,” Williams said.

Additionally, she assured that the girls will be poised to represent their country in respective pageants because of the intense training that they will take part in.

This training will include going to the gym, speech training, personal development, which includes etiquette, coordination of wardrobe and learning how to meet and greet people, as well as building camaraderie with other contestants.

The girls, as well as Williams, expressed their gratitude to persons who helped to make the show a success.(BK)