There are beauty pageants for all shapes, disabilities, ethnicities and sizes. Yes, there are more pageants out there than just Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Universe. In North America alone, there are more than 2000 registered pageants.
One national pageant that celebrates a woman's curves is the American Beauties Plus (ABP) Pageant for the full-figured woman. This pageant crowns intelligent women who are active in their communities, families and careers.
There are several titles that one can win but the top prize of Elite goes to the delegate with the most points and this year, that delegate hails from Washington state, Tasha Haskins, age 34. Haskins is not only a beauty queen but is a plus-size fashion model as well. She has modeled for Nordstrom, Macy's, Eddie Bauer and much more. Her platform is all about empowering women. "I'm about helping other women get to a place where you like yourself and what you're doing. I help women get to the place they want to be in life," said Haskins. "And now is the time to do so. Don't wait to lose weight or until your life is just perfect to make changes. Pursue your dreams right now."
Haskins has been through a lot of challenges in her life. She was sexually abused as a young girl, homeless at one point, divorced and left to manage as a single parent, then unemployed and at the same time told she was over-employable. "The abuse really influenced my view about myself as a teen," said Haskins. Pageantry helped to build her self-esteem and confidence. "I once tried out for Miss America and was told by a judge that the world isn't ready for a plus-sized Miss America and was ultimately given low scores by that person." Haskins' new title will open doors for her to make a difference for other women. "I'm building my own program and I do personal coaching to assist others," said Haskins.
When asked about what she would say to people who claim that plus-size beauty pageants promote obesity, she said this, "We reach a demographic that is more than 60 percent of America. We're not eating bon-bons on the couch. It's empowering and many of the women lose weight in the process and even become healthier." Haskins who was once 350 pounds has lost 100 pounds with the assistance of bariatric surgery. She said that being in pageantry has made her want to improve herself. "It bothers others more than it bothers us. People say to themselves, I dare these women look beautiful at 250 pounds!"
Haskins has an empowering message to curvy teens and moms. "Teens if you can't find anyone to look up to, look to the media and find someone positive that you can relate to. Find a celebrity like Gabourey Sidibe or Melissa McCarthy or someone in pageantry who looks like you," said Haskins. "These people have overcome obstacles in the entertainment industry and are paving the way." She also had this to say to moms, "Don't put yourself on the back burner. Your children look up to you. If you look good and feel good, so will they. Even if you just start small with putting on some lip gloss or curling your hair, do something for you," said Haskins. "If you're just going to the gym or going to the mailbox, look cute doing it. Then you may actually want to go to the mall. Never let your size determine your swag."
The American Beauties Plus pageant also has a Mrs Division and a Teen Division for those who feel confident enough to strut their stuff on stage. There isn't a swimsuit competition but you have the option to enter the talent portion, if you want to go for an extra prize.
As the American Beauties Plus Elite Queen for 2016, Haskins represents her title until this time next year. In 2016, the American Beauties National Pageants system will offer two types of pageants for women, the one that Haskins won for the plus-size woman and another for women under a size 12. For more information go to AmericanBeautiesNationalPageants.com.