Plus-size beauty pagaent finalist from Swindon tells how cruel taunts drove her on (From This Is Wiltshire)
Plus-size beauty pagaent finalist from Swindon tells how cruel taunts drove her on
A WOMAN has proved her school bullies wrong after being selected as a finalist in the Miss Plus Size International beauty pageant.
Ally Woodward, 27, of Westlea, who used to be 24 stone, was one of 25 women chosen from 1,100 applicants to take part in the contest – after only signing up for a laugh.
The Energy Saving Trust business development advisor said: “I used to think I was a frumpy fat girl, but the competition has completely changed my confidence.
“It’s embarrassing now to say that I signed up for a joke, but that shows how I felt about myself back then.”
At 5ft 10ins and now 17-and-a-half stone, Ally struggled with bullies when she was younger and through her time at the Ridgeway School in Wroughton.
She said: “Having that when I was a teenager destroyed my confidence.
“I always thought I could never get anywhere because I was fat. But body size shouldn’t be all you are.
“It’s appalling that people feel they can pick on you because of your body.
“My bullies still live in Swindon and it’s horrible what I went through, but these people have made me who I am now. They’ve done me a favour.
“Now I feel it’s my job to reach out to other women who have gone through bullying because of their size. As long as you are happy and healthy, it shouldn’t matter what size your body is.”
Now she has never felt happier. She said: “This week I’m running the Cardiff Half Marathon and I eat healthily and keep fit. Even when I was younger and a bit smaller I was never as fit as I am now.”
Ally, who is set to marry carpenter Tom Wadeley, 27, next May, was invited to London for an interview and was chosen to take part in a boot camp over the summer. She said: “I was really surprised. People have always said that I have a pretty face but not that I could be a model or anything.”
During boot camp in June Ally started learning the skills she will need for the contest. One of her best experiences was learning how to strut her stuff on the catwalk.
She said: “I have respect now for models because it’s all about placing your body in the right positions to make sure you don’t fall over, and the focus you have to have.”
It was also an opportunity to meet similar women. She said: “When you are a plus size girl you can feel isolated. But boot camp made me realise I wasn’t alone, that there were other girls who had gone through the same sort of things.”
She is now preparing for the grand final when 25 models go head to head at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London on November 23.
Designers Very and Debenhams havesponsored her swimwear and casual wear. Her evening wear was designed by Baylis and Knight, who have designed dresses for the Duchess of Cambridge.