Have you ever had a dream or a goal in life that you wanted so desperately but your own fears have stopped you from fulfilling it? Yeah, me too!
For years I battled anxiety. I was crippled by the fears of being inadequate, a failure, not good enough, not smart enough, incapable, not tall enough, not pretty enough, the wrong size, the wrong colour, the wrong weight – just not enough.
My own mental health took a severe battering at the hands of my low self-esteem. I looked in the mirror and barely recognised the girl looking back at me; I had fallen out of love with that girl. I spent a lot of my younger years comparing myself to others, measuring my own worth by how others perceived me. I didn’t have any belief in myself or in what I was capable of. I didn’t ever go to uni, I got pregnant at the age of 16, had to drop out of the Brit School for Performing Arts and I felt that my life was spiralling out of control. In amongst working full time and being a young mum I seemed to have forgotten who I was as a person.
A lot of my own insecurities were fuelled by the media’s portrayal of how women should be. I was comparing myself to images of women that I could never compare to; tall, slim, perfectly toned and flawless bodies.
After years of beating myself up about the fact that I didn’t compare to these “perfect” ideals, I started to notice that there were women on social media who seemed to look more like me, I happened across bloggers like Georgina Grogan, Georgina Horne, Stephanie Yeboah, Sam Rowswell, Debz Aiken, Lucia Morris, Leah Davidson and even our very own Laura Ferry – beautiful and confident women who were unashamed of their bodies and proud to show the world that women come in all different shapes and sizes.
These women gave me life; they inspired me to try new things and to be more adventurous in my outfit choices. They weren’t afraid to break the fashion rules and rock crop tops, stripes, bold prints, bikinis, bright colours, tight fitting clothing and a whole world of other things that we as fat people are told NOT to wear. They opened my eyes to the plus-size community and it was there that I began to truly fall in love with my body and began to realise that maybe I wasn’t such a failure after all.
I am a great believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason, through the plus size twitter grapevine I happened across an advert for a beauty pageant which was seeking women who were a size 14+ to compete for a national title. Those good old “yeah right Kat, like they would EVER except you” thoughts crept into my head, but I had dubbed 2015 as my “yes” year. A year for trying new things and stepping outside of my comfort zone. When self-doubt reared its ugly head, I flushed the negativity out like a bad smell. Instead of saying “no, I can’t” or “nah, it’s not my thing” I tried to sub those phrases with things like, “yeah, alright then” and “why the hell not.”
I slowly started to realise that my own worst enemy wasn’t anyone other than myself. I was preventing myself from experiencing more in my life, from being happy and from making new friends. I entered the pageant in the end; I actually did one better… I won!
My first ever beauty pageant and I won not only the title of Ms British Beauty Curve 2015/16 but I also won awards for Ms Publicity, Best in Swimwear (I wore a bikini for the first time ever on stage – yes a full on, belly out and jiggly bits too, bright coloured bikini) Best in Fashion Wear (I wore my very first jumpsuit, but not just any jumpsuit, a tropical print jumpsuit complete with a bright pink blazer – complete colour clash I know, but it rocked!) and Best in Evening Gown too.
Every outfit choice I made was a risk, I tried to really push my boundaries and it paid off big time! Not only did I win but Miss British Beauty Curve has become more than just a win for me. I have gained so much more than that, I was welcomed into a family of positivity, love and support from all of the girls who compete year on year. I have used my title to promote positivity and to help instil confidence in women all over the country, I have raised money for several charities and it has opened my eyes to a whole new world of life-changing experiences. Funny to think that it all started with me after all, no tricks, no gimmicks and no potions…just me and my own self-belief and a big dash of “just try it….you might like it” attitude. I plan to conquer the world next, what are you gonna do?