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Miss Plus Size Arizona
Graces Phoenix May 15

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The eight women that are vying for the title.
The Miss Plus Size Arizona Pageant Will Give Eight Contestants The Chance To Share Their Gifts And Passions With The Community At Club Palazzo In Phoenix

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By Karen Weil
Modern Times Magazine

May 10, 2016 — They’re confident, attractive and talented — but they’re not a size two. And that’s just fine.

In fact, to enter the first annual Miss Plus Arizona Pageant, being held on May 15 at Club Palazzo in Phoenix, a woman must wear no less than a size 14W.

The force behind Miss Plus Arizona is Christina Moore, pageant director and owner of A Queen’s Closet online clothing store.

“I want women in general to know that there are no limits,” said Moore, a native Floridian who competed in a high school pageant. “I want them to know it can be done. I’m just a regular little country girl who believed in herself.”

Moore said she wants the pageant to give the local plus-size community a platform and promote African-American entrepreneurship.

Eight women — ranging from age 18 to the mid-30s — are vying for the title. All are pageant novices. They will be judged on several categories including an interview, a session called “Who Am I,” Elegant Pants Wear, Formal Wear and a question-and-answer session.

Each contestant must have a platform, be it business, activism, community service or artistic-related.

The judge’s panel evaluating them is made up of former pageant winners, a boutique owner, a professional makeup artist and a professional stylist.

The winner goes on to the Miss Plus America Pageant, held June 29 through July 2 in Dallas.

While that pageant’s origins date back to 2003, not every state participated. Arizona hopefuls simply went on to the national contest — which was not an inexpensive undertaking.

Nanette Wells, executive director for the Miss Plus America pageant, said the local contest “will bring a greater appreciation for plus-size beauty in Arizona.”

Wells said she is pleased with what she’s seen for the new Miss Plus Arizona pageant.

“Christina is enthusiastic and diligent about what she’s doing,” Wells added. “She brings a degree of passion.”

In terms of what these pageants themselves represent, “from my perspective, we’re not promoting obesity,” Wells said. “We’re just saying that while you are the size you are, you have gifts that God has blessed you with. Go ahead and share those with society.”

One Miss Plus Arizona contestant, Amy Richmond, said being a part of the event is very exciting. “It’s been a great learning experience,” said Richmond, a 16-year Phoenix resident and stylist at David’s Bridal.

Richmond began modeling about six years ago and has also worked in Los Angeles. “The first time I stepped out onto the runway, it was life-changing,” she added.

Richmond said that she struggled with body image for most of her life, but has learned to accept herself within the last 10 years. She hopes that this competition will be eye-opening for other people who are “not your typical supermodel size.”

Moore said she had been in Arizona about five or six months when she started planning for the pageant. She expects that between 150 and 200 people will attend.

From finding vendors — Pretty Women Can Cook, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, King of Tips and The Sparkle Bar are sponsors — to organizing the contestants, “I did it all by myself,” Moore said.

The event is part of a larger social trend. From Oprah Winfrey to Queen Latifah to Melissa McCarthy, plus-size women have made their mark on the media and entertainment worlds.

In another cultural turning point, this year marked the first time a model who was not 115 pounds graced the cover of Sports Illustrated’s always-popular Swimsuit Issue when Ashley Graham appeared on the cover.

Moore said these women serve as role models.  “We live in a society that has become more accepting” of bigger women, said Moore, who added that she was “big before big” was fashionable.

The Jacksonville native said it was difficult growing up heavier, but her personality allowed her navigate those awkward teenage years, when she was a cheerleader who stayed active.

“I had a very good support system,” Moore said. “My mom always made sure I knew I was beautiful. I’ve always been strong-willed person, even when I was younger.”

Moore said the average American woman today is a size 12, adding plus-size women don’t feel they need to “settle” anymore, be it in the personal or professional realm.

Moore said Miss Plus Size Arizona is happening next year, with the goal of happening every year afterwards. She added she’s looking into holding a Miss Plus Size Nevada contest for 2017 as well.

The Miss Plus Size Arizona pageant will be held starting at 5 p.m. at Club Palazzo, 710 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. Tickets start at $20 and can be found at  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/miss-plus-arizona-pageant-tickets-20543295550.
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