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Mon, Apr 12, 2010
The Straits Times
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Big babes
by Cara Van Miriah

They are big, bold and beautiful. And they are taking part in what is likely to be Singapore's first plus-size beauty pageant.

The contestants for Miss & Ms Amazing must weigh at least 80kg and possess a big personality and confidence to go with it.

The contest, which is open to single and married women, has attracted 40 contestants aged between 19 and 43 since registration began in February. It is organised by TKS and Sons, which also organises the Miss Teen Singapore, Little Miss Singapore and Elite Mrs Singapore contests.

Ms Beverly Tan, 29, founder of TKS and Sons, said she came up with a plus-size pageant to give big women a platform to show off their beauty.

She says: 'This pageant will redefine the meaning of beauty. There are many good-looking plus-size women in Singapore and this is a chance for them to show people they have what it takes to be a beauty queen.'

The contest has attracted women from all walks of life - students, pre-school teachers, entrepreneurs, sales managers and housewives.

One of them is Madam Karen Foo, 40, a counsellor and therapist, who stands at 1.65m and weighs 92kg. The mother of three says: 'I joined the contest out of vanity. I want to be part of this inaugural pageant that celebrates plus-size women.'

She was not always this confident. When she was a teenager, she struggled to be accepted by her peers.

She recalls: 'I was often rejected by my peers based on my larger physique and was treated with little respect. There is a misconception that bigger girls are ugly, lazy and unhealthy. My well-meaning friends and relatives said I had to lose weight or I would never get a man to marry me.'

She went through a slimming programme in her 20s but she did not lose weight.

She adds: 'Finally, I told myself that I have to accept the way I look and move on. Why should I sit around and mope?'

She got divorced in 2005 and remarried last year. Her second husband, Mr Mark Evers, is a technical project manager. He is Dutch and they met through an online chat. When they became friends, she told him that she is a plus-size woman.

She has two children from her first marriage, aged 11 and seven, and a six-year-old stepson.

Mr Evers, 40, says: 'I told Karen that she was really hot when I met her for the first time. I fell in love with her independent spirit and vivacious personality.'

The contest heats will be held over two weekends in June at a shopping mall where contestants will vie for the Best Interview and Catwalk Awards.

At the finals on July 17, all 50 contestants will perform in a dance segment and parade in casual wear and evening gowns.

But Ms Tan says they will not be wearing swimsuits as some women might find the idea of wearing a swimsuit in public too intimidating.

Personal development and grooming experts interviewed welcome the contest. Ms Genecia Luo, founder of InQueenz, a personality development and training academy, says: 'Size doesn't determine one's worth and beauty. Oprah Winfrey and Queen Latifah are beautiful big women who continue to make significant strides in what they do.

'I believe the pageant's aim is to encourage plus-size women to be comfortable in their own skin.'

The pageant will also boost the confidence of plus-size women here, adds former beauty queen Teo Ser Lee. She runs image and business etiquette consultancy Protocol Academy.

'These contestants have already shown that they have more confidence than many slimmer beauty contestants,' she says. 'The fact that they are stepping up on stage to show who they are is admirable.'

Get to know some of the contestants

 

This article was first published in The Sunday Times.

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