As I set off with fear that I had forgotten to pack something that I would no doubt need, I was excited about getting to meet all the girls I hadn’t yet met and seeing those that I had. I must add I was also slightly apprehensive about how we would all get on and what lie ahead over the next 3 days.
En-route I stopped off to pick up 3 girls also travelling to boot camp, and it was great to meet up with them on the way and it made the journey much more fun.
Upon arrival, a few people had beaten us across the line and after we had unloaded the car we were given the keys to our rooms. We had all been allocated rooms, to share with others that we hadn’t necessarily spent any great amount of time with to ensure that we all got to know different people.
Once settled we were all to meet downstairs for champagne and introductions. Before this though everyone was mingling , it was noisy and excitement and anticipation filled the air, people were greeting those they knew like old friends and introducing themselves to those they hadn’t, this is it I thought, this is why I entered this pageant to meet all these wonderful and individual girls that had one common goal – empowerment!
We had a bit of a fun get to know you session and heard many different reasons for people entering into this pageant, from those that saw this as a platform to launch a modelling career, to those who wanted to inspire and encourage others and meet like-minded people, and those that wanted to increase their own confidence
The management team talked us through some information about how the rest of the weekend was going to unfold. After this we had a buffet dinner all together. People congregated in groups, catching up or getting to know one another and the night was topped off with a few drinks and a lot of laughter.
So today was all about the catwalk, today we would be learning to walk. I did think that after 35 years I had this talent mastered, but it would appear to be a very different ‘walk’ to what I was used to.
Again ‘walking’ in front of everyone was out of my comfort zone, I felt awkward, I felt silly, and most of all I felt that people would be making judgements. Now in normal circumstances this would probably have been the case, but here……it was different. Positivity breeds positivity and all the girls where constantly uplifting one another, when someone was worried we supported and encouraged, not judged and criticized. It was refreshing!
I looked down too much, I needed to smile more and I needed to relax a bit – this was feedback from our catwalk coach on my walking. As the day progressed, so did I, not much but it was all in the right direction. I discovered I have a better face for songs with ‘attitude’ than cutesy fun ones….who knew ;0)
We had some free time before dinner which I utilised to get ready for the evenings fun, showcasing some of the girl’s talents, it was time for XL Factor.
I had no discernible talent to showcase, and my breath was truly taken away when we all saw just how many of these girls had amazing voices! It was the kind of singing that evokes memories and emotions, and for some in the room it was a very emotive evening. There were also some fun talents shown that got the group laughing and showed great creativity and humour.
We all voted for who we thought should win, and the wonderful Jo Frost won with her rendition of ‘Pearl’s a Singer’ and when I say this girls voice was amazing, that is no word of a lie, she was fab, and will be singing at the Plus Size Awards in November, such an exciting invitation for her to do so. As a double whammy for Jo, it was also just after midnight and it was therefore her birthday!! We all sang her a little happy birthday!
Dancing and silliness ensued.
I have never been that great at being the centre of attention in this kind of environment, sit me within a room full of people and I’ll act the class clown, tell the jokes and make fun of myself and others, but get me to stand up and just ‘let loose’ and I am less able due to worrying about what people will think of me. But you know this is also part of my journey in this competition, to ease up on myself a little and stop being so afraid to be myself.
This day we had a couple of workshops to attend on media, public speaking and confidence. We all know that with a competition like this, there will be negative media towards the winner. We need to be prepared and this is what the management team wanted to achieve. Alongside this we would need to be prepared for public speaking, not only if we won, but on the night of the pageant, we will have to say a few things.
And lastly a confidence building workshop led by a plus size model with her story as to how she overcame obstacles in her own life and is positively moving forward in the industry.
The whole day was positively positive, and to end the day’s events off, we were all interviewed individually about the pageant. This was filmed so watch this space………..
The evening’s entertainment was us…..well we had to pick our outfit and it was catwalk time. This again I was kind of dreading, I was still not ‘letting myself go’!! So we all walking in turn, and had to answer a fun question at the end of it, this was just a bit of fun, and I have to take the time to mention three people in this…Kim, Danielle and Courtney….
Kim because she became a gold hot pant clad super heroin for her catwalk. Danielle because she had been recognised for growing in confidence throughout the weekend and Courtney because this girl was so creative with her outfit, she made a dress out of bin bags….out of bin bags!! It was truly amazing!!
We also had a little matter of celebrating Jo’s birthday, there was a cake and some singing and I think that Jo was a little overwhelmed by it all, it was great fun and then she was in for a real treat…
Earlier in the evening, we had been told that there were two latecomer’s to competition and to boot-camp and they would be arriving within the next hour or so, I smelt a rat…something wasn’t quite right, and sure enough, right on cue these two ‘girls’ were introduced to the room…
As Jo was pulled up to a seat in the middle of the room, she was getting a very special birthday treat, a slightly creepy birthday lap dance from our very own Mark and Chris or should I say Martina and Christina?? Both teetering about on heels and in dresses, putting on a show, they were great sports for doing it and it provided all of us with a lot of laughter.
Knowing that it would all be over tomorrow and that most of us wouldn’t see each other again until the finals, we stayed up into the small hours of the morning, not wanting this to end in many ways.
The weekend flew by, and before we knew it, it was time to pack up and ship out. After a quick tidy round of our rooms, and some photos, the management team advised us of what happens next and it was at that moment we all realised that this was now the countdown to the finals in September.
If I take nothing else from this pageant, I will take away the inspiration from the girls I met at boot camp, that no matter what, its ok to be yourself, and show the world who you are!