Brittany Sumter, an entrepreneur and Columbia stay-at-home mom, decided to challenge the standard of beauty that portrays only one body type as beautiful by competing in pageants that are accepting to plus-size women.
“It really gave me opportunity to just identify who I am, what I stand for what I believe in,” she said. “And where I want to go.”
Recently, she won the national title of Mrs. Plus America in a competition of over a dozen women size 12 or larger. Before winning this title, she won the South Carolina level of the competition for married women only.
“I think the main part about pageantry is you’ve conquered all of that once you get on stage. No matter what the judges say you’ve conquered the insecurities and I feel that made you a winner right then and there,” Sumter said.
For Sumter, her victory meant more than just a crown. It was a chance for her to show those watching the pageant that all people of all sizes can glow with accomplishment.
“You don’t just have to be a specific body type, you don’t have to be a specific race, you don’t have to have your hair a certain way, in order to stand out in order to speak out and really have a presence and I think that’s really what it’s about,“ says Sumter.
Although there’s still a lot of work to be done, the efforts of pageants like Miss Plus America are definitely giving women a glimmer of hope, she said.
Ayanna White of Columbia, a friend of Sumter’s, said she experienced that as she watched Sumter receive her national title.
“It showed that you just accept yourself no matter what, no matter what people seem or deem as a standard of beauty… whether you’re big, tall, small, whatever, you just have to accept yourself and love the person that you are,” Sumter said.
Whether she has a crown on her head or not, Sumter hopes to continue empowering women like White with messages of empowerment.
“Always shine. Never let anyone or anything dim your light, because who you are is worth it, and I live that to this day.”