WEARING a plunging, embellished red gown as she stepped on stage, size 16 Chantelle McSharry felt a million dollars.
Despite being trolled and struggling to find clothes that fit her curvaceous figure over the years, the 28-year-old was competing in a beauty pageant, in a bid to show she was proud to be curvy.
Now, she’s on a mission to prove women of any size can feel beautiful and confident, regardless of any negativity.
The contracts manager, from Falkirk, who classes herself as plus size due to her hourglass figure, says: “I want to show that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and people shouldn’t be so quick to judge.”
‘I compared myself to my friends’
Growing up, Chantelle didn’t have any self-confidence issues, until her teen years.
She says: “I wanted to wear certain clothes my friends were wearing but my due my chest size I couldn’t get away with the little Bardot tops or boob tubes.
“I would compare myself to my friends.
“I wasn’t the skinniest girl but I always loved getting ready and going out.”
A growing confidence
As Chantelle got older though, her confidence grew, despite difficulties finding clothing that fit her curvier figure – an issue she still has today.
She says: “My confidence sky rocketed when I found my own style, and I stopped comparing myself to others.
“I have more an hour glass figure and I love it – my size varies due to where I shop but now I am usually around a size 14 to 16.
“However, I do struggle to find tops to fit my bust, as I am top heavy but have a small waist.”
‘I’ve been told to cover up my cleavage’
Chantelle has also had to overcome negativity online, with trolls commenting on her figure.
She says: “People have said I’m lying about my size, or commented on the outfit I’m wearing to say it isn’t flattering, and I’ve also been told to cover up my cleavage.
“However I have always been a confident person and not let the opinions of others affect me.
“They can think what they want, but it won’t change my life.
“Nowadays people are quick to just write nasty comments which can effect people mentally, which is a shame.
“We should be lifting each other up – not putting them down.”
‘I wanted to do something I could be proud of’
Earlier this year, Chantelle decided to take the plunge and apply to be in empowering pageant, Miss Voluptuous UK – which she went on to win last month.
She says: “I wanted to do something I could be proud of, and push myself out of my comfort zone.
“I had to fill out an online form about why I wanted to take part and why I felt I should be a finalist.
“Then, before I knew it, I was accepted. Pageantry isn’t just like the movies there’s a lot more to it.
“Everyone is so inspiring, and are a voice for people who may struggle – it’s truly remarkable.”
‘There’s nothing stopping you’
Just before she competed however, Chantelle was diagnosed with blood clots in her lungs.
Undeterred, she now uses her platform to raise awareness of the condition, becoming the first UK ambassador for the National Blood Clot Alliance.
Now, Chantelle is set to compete at an international level later this year.
She adds: “I’ve learned that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.
“If you truly want something and have a positive mindset, there is nothing stopping you.”
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