Plus-size model Melissa Brannan is encouraging girls to love their curves after reaching the final of a beauty pageant.
Melissa, 26, has been selected to compete in Miss British Beauty Curve in London in July.
The Miss Gloucestershire for curvy women, who is a size 14, said she is happier and more confident since gaining baby weight and hopes to inspire other women.
“It is important for young girls to see that you don’t have to be a size six to be beautiful,” said Melissa, who lives in Lydney with son Joshua, six. “Before I had my son I was a size eight and I wasn’t happy. I was always worrying.
“Since gaining weight I feel a lot more comfortable in my body and happier. Plus size modelling shows women in their natural light and I hope to inspire other women to take up modelling and love their bodies.”
Melissa, who is studying for a psychology degree through the Open University, is putting together a portfolio which she is sending off to modelling agencies. Her photographer encouraged her to enter the competition and she said: “I hope this competition will open doors for me and give me a good start in the modelling industry,” said Melissa. “Being plus-size is more acceptable in modern society now.”
She is now preparing for the final of the competition where she will strut her stuff in eveningwear, fashionwear and swimwear in front of a panel of judge at the Lost Theatre in London on July 27.
Leah Prescod, the pageant’s director said this year’s final will feature around 30 women
“The main focus is to bring girls together to build their confidence and to make friends and to celebrate the fact that you should be happy no matter what size you are,” she said.
“Almost all of our applicants each year have been bullied or have had issues with their weight growing up.
“This competition allows them to break out of their shy comfort zone and to dress up in beautiful clothes and be a beauty queen for the day.
“It is also a great platform for the girls to kick start their modelling careers.
“Last year’s winner now models for ASOS and various plus-size boutiques and has appeared in numerous national newspapers and event ITV’s Catchphrase show.
“When we set up this competition we wanted to do something different to show that just because you don’t fit the boxes of what magazines might expect you to be, you are still beautiful.”