Thelma Fetu 29, from Christchurch New Zealand, now residing in Sydney Australia has been crowned the first Miss South Pacific Plus.
The unique competition which was held in Sydney on Friday night celebrates ‘Plus-Size’ Pacific women and is the first pageant of its kind in the Pacific.
Ms Fetu whose parents are from the villages of Satapuala, Safato’a Lefaga and Leulomoeaga Tuai, says she always struggled with body image whilst growing up.
But as she became more confident in her life, her friends suggested she enter the competition when the search for contestants was advertised earlier this year.
“I’ve seen how popular the Plus-Size pageants are in America,” says Fetu. “So I’ve been waiting for it to come here.
“I entered because I want to be an example for the younger ones. Many of the bigger girls, especially us Pacific girls are afraid to show our skin and so we cover up sometimes. Even if I didn’t win, I just wanted to set an example to younger girls that they should love their bodies.”
Director of the new pageant Victoria Malaga, 28 says that she wanted to create a platform for fuller-figured Pacific women who have long felt left out of the traditional pageant scene.
When she put the call out for pageant participants, she received a large response.
“We had girls from all the Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand and as far as the U.S expressing their interest,” she says.
The entries were narrowed down to six finalists who proudly displayed their respective Pacific backgrounds through talent, fashion and interviews to a sell-out crowd.
Present at last night’s show was well known Sydney-based Pacific Fashion Designer and talent scout Tito Stowers who praised the new initiative.
“It’s important for our women to embrace their bodies and own their beauty, regardless of their shape or size. Being ‘plus-size’ should be celebrated.”