Paula Powlett (Picture by Krystal Hoyte)
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She’s plus-sized and she has owned some pageant stages in her time.
Paula Powlett was first runner-up in the Queen’s College pageant in 2012, and while at UWI Mona she was Miss Rex Nettleford Hall 2013.
In some spheres, Paula said, some would never have considered her for any form of pageant but she was glad she did them both even though they were never in her plans.
In fact, she entered her first pageant at Queen’s College as a “joke”.
“I had a different view of pageantry before I entered it. Before I did the pageant in Jamaica I did the Queens College pageant. I entered by accident. I was on the committee and it happened that they needed more persons to sign up so I was joking around and I did it. Then everyone was telling me I had to stay in and I told them no way.
“I went home and spoke to my mum and asked her what would people say and if I was strong enough to handle what would possibly come with it. I’m glad I stayed in because it was a really good experience and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I came second in the pageant and it felt amazing,” she recalled.
She said she fell in love with it after that experience and wanted to go again. This time she took control of the stage in Jamaica and won her residence hall pageant.
“[It was] in Jamaica and it was a new experience. I didn’t know a lot of people there but I knew I did the pageant before and I knew I could do it again. There’s no other feeling than having that validation. It was such a confidence booster and I don’t regret it at all,” she added.
But as with everything, she received mixed reviews after winning the pageant, Paula said.
“But a lot of people told me I should continue in pageantry but I need to lose weight. So that really put doubts in your mind and makes you wonder if you are good enough. I thought this big change needed to happen in order to be better,” she said. That’s a feeling that was all too familiar to Paula, who said she has always been a plus-sized person. She admitted during the interview at Sweetfield Manor that it has not always been easy for her growing up and it took some time for her to feel comfortable in her own skin.
“I was always plus-sized. As far as I could remember I was always a little bigger than everyone else. Sometimes you think you’re way thicker than you are; that’s how it was for me. I do think I’ve always been in that plus- sized category.”
“It’s something that took me some time to own 100 per cent. Being plus-sized has this negative connotation to it. Growing up in the Caribbean, you get that additional negativity attached to it as well. It’s still taking me some time to own my body and be confident all the time. I definitely think it takes some time,” Paula added.
The soft-spoken Paula said seeing or hearing the negative comments, which are sometimes disguised as constructive criticism, often makes her sit and think but she stressed that she never allows it to break her spirit.
“Everyone has bad days where you don’t feel 100 per cent. I think what brings you back and remembering who you are and having that introspection to get you back on track,” she said. She described her strong support system as her biggest confidence booster.
“I definitely think my confidence has a lot to do with my support system. My mum and dad are absolutely amazing. My circle of friends is superb. When I think things are going left they are right there to tell me keep going and to keep pushing. So I think when you have positive people around you it pushes you beyond and I’m lucky enough to have such positive people around me and it ultimately makes me more positive as well,” she stressed.
Admittedly a lover of life and someone who represents confidence and happiness, the 26-year-old creative consultant said she is now at a place in her life where she is focused on positivity and being healthy, mentally and physically.
“Until you’re ready and not just because people are telling you, and there’s a positive energy inside of you I don’t think it really works. Right now, I’m in that space where there’s a positive energy inside of me that wants to be healthy, that wants to live a long and happy life.”
“I work out four times a week, three times at 5:30 on a morning and once on Sundays at 9. It’s a journey. Recently I’ve become much more in tune with being healthy and I just want to clarify that I don’t want to be skinny. I just want to be healthy for my body. I don’t want to be the standard of what people define beauty to be. I want to be healthy for me,” she revealed.
She said though it’s not easy working out, she knows it’s something that must be done.
“It’s very intense; getting up at 5 to get ready to work out is not easy but I do it. I love it and I do see results; I feel better and the endorphins come out your body after,” she added.
Paula said there were unfortunately some younger girls who struggled with their weight too and the harsh criticisms of others, and one thing she wanted them to know was that they should not to be affected by anything negative persons had to say.
“A lot of things that people project onto you really have nothing to do with you. It actually has a lot to do with them. Find the right people to support you. Your tribe is the way that you go forward in life and it’s so important to have good people in your life because the days that you cannot walk, those are the days that they carry you.”
“Sometimes you just need to take a minute. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time for yourself and recalibrating. Find that beauty and light inside of you, speak to it have it speak to you and then move on from there,” Paula advised. (DB)