When 23-year-old Romina Verna was declared Miss Gordita Paraguay, she held her bouquet of flowers and gave the audience and cameras a proud, happy smile.
The Miss Gordita pageant is distinct in that it aims to help plus-size women honor and celebrate their bodies across Latin America.
CREDIT: CREDIT: Facebook / Miss Gordita Paraguay – Pagina Oficial
It was started by Veronica Duarte and her boyfriend, Mike Beras, a Brazilian producer and author living in Paraguay. They were both tired of seeing bigger women only featured in the context of losing weight, and wanted to do something about it.
That’s why Miss Gordita isn’t just a pageant. It’s also a three month-long intensive program, complete with modeling classes, group therapy, counseling with a nutritionist, and sessions with an image consultant. And it’s all totalmente gratis.
The five judges evaluated all 14 contestants on categories such as elegance, attractiveness (it’s a beauty pageant, after all), and achievements in the program.
The crowned Miss Gordita wins one year of free nutritional counseling and a gym membership, with the focus being on maintaining health, not necessarily reaching a certain size. She’ll also act as a kind of an Miss Gordita ambassador, giving talks on Paraguayan television.
As PlusModel mag points out, however, there’s a blur in the messaging when it comes to promoting self-acceptance and health at any size, while also pairing contestants with nutritionists, therapists and trainers.
But the pageant isn’t just an opportunity for the women involved. It also acts as a major social step forward for Paraguay, where around six out of 10 people are considered overweight and remain victims of discrimination.
One contestant, Bianca Valdez, told Fusion that “I used to dress like an old woman with big blouses and pants. Now I dress sexy and use makeup. See how great I look?”
Although Miss Gordita has only been around since 2012, it’s part of a whole series of alt-pageants in Paraguay, including: Miss Kambá, an anti-racist pageant; Miss Madurita, for women 40-plus; Miss Petisa, for women 5-feet and under; and Miss Bad Girls, for tattooed chicas.
Miss Gordita has given women the priceless experience of developing the self-esteem they deserve, even if it seems to want to have it both ways — shining a spotlight on larger women while also guiding them towards options that might result in weight loss.
What do you think of the Miss Gordita pageant? We wanna knowwwwww.