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Britain's Biggest Beauty Queens: Good, Bad or Irrelevant?

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You flick through the TV channels, where you stop on a television programme, which follows the lives of four beauty pageant models. What do you expect to see? Tall, slim, tanned young girls, how wrong you are.

This isn't any normal beauty pageant; of course, you'll have the normal sparkly over the top dresses, the embellishment of various body parts and the smallest, tightest bikini tops you can imagine. This beauty pageant has a twist, these models are sized 18 plus.

Welcome to the Big Beautiful Woman Pageant, the competition where Britain's most stunning plus sized models celebrate their beauty without feeling an ounce of guilt in doing-so. I have to be honest; there aren't many larger women I know who celebrate the idea. After all, being called overweight, or even obese, isn't something many women set out to achieve.

For starters, is this not making a mockery of the government's healthy Body Mass Index campaign? I mean, in the past I've faced numerous ear bashings from the nurse, where she delightfully told me I was overweight and ought to do something about it. After all, it cuts years off my life. If you've been fortunate to escape the boundary complying nurse then I'm sure you've come into contact with the 'Change Your Life' advertisements. It's enough to make you feel temporarily guilty, until you reach for the chocolate bar anyway.

Self-indulgence is celebrated in this contest, as is being unhealthy and being obese. There is no limit to this competition, apart from the fact you have to be a size 18, at least. Horrifyingly, you could weigh 50 tons and be greeted with open arms into the competition.

The documentary (on BBC 3), features four young girls who are on a quest to win the Big Beautiful Woman Pageant. I'm sure you are all thinking, what's the incentive for competing, with the word 'money' springing to mind. This isn't the case, the one and only prize these girls win is a sash declaring their temporary title - Mrs. B.B.W International. Perhaps the most important prize comes from within, the feeling of happiness and confidence - which can often be left quashed by the public's perceptions of larger women.

I'm sure many people, particularly women, will shriek in horror as they witness the models strutting their stuff nearly nude in a bikini down a catwalk. It isn't the weight, size or amount of cellulite that worries me about these women; instead it is the emotional instability that could occur due to them exposing themselves, physically and emotionally to a mass audience. Confidence is something these girls ooze in front of the camera, but humans are complex creatures. Who isn't to say they are feeling vulnerable and ashamed. After all, they each have their own reason for applying to the pageant and it isn't just to win a tiara.

Women's magazines relentlessly dictate to the nation the perfect size, shape and weight of the most stunning celebrities, people who are role models to women internationally. Regardless of who you are, if you do not fit into this 'perfect' criterion, then you can feel disappointed and unworthy of any attention. After all, we can all achieve the perfect photo shopped figure that appears on the front of every magazine, can't we?

Everyday women are left feeling like they are failures because they don't have the perfect hourglass figure complete with the 20-inch waist. Instead, they are flawed with cellulite, dimples and stretch marks. While it's easy to become infatuated with our flaws, they represent who we are. And, while this pageant may not be everyone's ideal, who are we to fault them for embracing who they are?

Often larger women are left ostracized from society based purely on their size, if an individual did this to someone based on their disability there would be a national outcry. These ladies are embracing their lives, and why shouldn't they? They aren't trying to change the national average size of women, they are just showing that everyone is different, and everyone is perfect in their own way. What is so wrong with girls being obese and happy? I see plenty of skinny size 6's who look completely miserable.

In all honesty, I can't hate this pageant even if the thought of myself being a size 18 (something I got very close to in the past) does leave me quivering inside. This documentary promotes living your life. As someone who has spent the last two years of my life dieting, this leaves me feeling uplifted. Why worry about being skinny, when we can be skeletons once our life has finished. You may as well just live for the moment and be a better person on the inside.