Sarah Taylor still bears the scars from the physical abuse she suffered because of her plus size physique.
“In Grade Five, I went home on a few occasions with bruises,” she recalls.
With her self-esteem elevated over the years, Taylor felt confident enough to enter the inaugural Canada Plus Pageant where she was crowned the winner.
“I am still in shock,” she said a few hours after the event administered by the Above Average Woman’s Network Inc. “This is really exciting. During this journey, I have learned that being voluptuous and curvy is not a hindrance, I have made new friends and my confidence has skyrocketed.”
After graduating from Stouffville Secondary School, Taylor attended Tyndale Bible College for a year before pursuing marketing studies at Seneca College. She’s a senior account manager with Artez Interactive and a volunteer executive assistant and fundraising manager with WINGS (Waiting, Investing, Nurturing, Growing & Soaring) Maternity Home which is a facility for homeless and displaced pregnant women.
Taylor, who recently severed an abusive relationship, also won the individual Best Talent Showcase and People’s Choice Awards.
Sasha Edwards and Trisha Hillary were the first and second runners-up, respectively.
“Leading up to the pageant, a lot of preparation and attention to detail were involved,” said Edwards. “To have everything come together on the night of the event where I was able to go out and express myself in front of an audience was very rewarding. Also fulfilling too is the fact that I met an amazing group of women.”
Struggling to control her weight has been an issue for Edwards.
“Most of my girlfriends are smaller than I am,” she said. “In a way, I have dealt with some insecurity issues because I am bigger than they are.”
An insurance broker, Hillary is no stranger to the spotlight, having been a plus size model for the last two years and a 2013 International Fuller Woman Expo participant.
“Though it took a lot of work to be ready for the pageant, the experience was fun and I made new friends,” she said.
Hillary, who clinched the Runway Diva and Miss Congeniality titles, used the pageant as a platform to promote diabetes awareness.
“The disease took the life of my grandmother before I was born and I have several family members who suffer from it,” said the St. Marguerite d’Youville Secondary School graduate.
The other contestants were Tarah Campbell, who captured the Miss Fitness Award; Miss Photogenic winner Kaity Wuebbott and Tessenie Mowatt.
Image consultant and event planner, Georgia Greenwood, started the pageant to promote self-worth and provide plus size women with a platform to build confidence and showcase their talents.
She said it will be an annual event.
By RON FANFAIR