A former dancer who was obsessed with her figure and suffered from mental health issues has been crowned Miss British Beauty Curve 2017.
Emily Diapre, 24, hit rock bottom whilst training at a dance school, but since embracing her curvy figure, has a new-found confidence.
The Miss British Beauty Curve winner from Sidcup, Kent, went from a size six at her smallest – despite being five foot nine-and-a-half – to her current size 18, and says she’s never been happier.
She was crowned as beauty queen of the pageant at the Hazlett Theatre, Maidstone, on August 5.
Emily said: “I’m ecstatic, I’m so so happy and I’ve worked hard for the whole year building up to this.
“It was really nervewracking and I didn’t think I would win until I did – I’m very humbled and honoured.
“There were four rounds and an interview with directors and previous queens, and they asked why I wanted to be part of the family.
“The opening round was a dance, which we were taught in the day and had to wear red, white and blue.
“Next was ‘glitz and glam’, where I wore a grenadier guard’s jacket with a carnival skirt, which said ‘we are not afraid’.
“People said it was really moving, it represented London and the strength we have.
“I went quite simple with the swimwear round, which takes a lot of courage because we’re plus size, but the audience was very supportive – we thought we could conquer the world when we were done.
“The last round was evening wear, and I wore a custom dress by Society Belle which is my dream dress.
“As well as winning overall, I also won best ‘glitz and glam’, best evening wear and Miss Publicity for the charity and volunteering work I’ve done.”
Emily will now be representing Great Britain at the Miss International Curve pageant on October 21, also at the Hazlett Theatre.
She is also hoping to concentrate on her anti-bullying campaign FAB – Fight Against Bullying.
Emily added: “I’m going to be concentrating on the campaign myself and Emma King, another queen, are running, called FAB.
“We’re hoping to go round schools and give more talks to help children who are being bullied.
“We’ve done a few photoshoots where we write negative words on each other which we’ve been called and then it’s such a great feeling scrubbing them off.
“We want to do a charity calendar for Christmas to raise money for Bullies Out.
“We also want to hold more meet-ups for plus size or bullied people to share stories and make friends, and we’re hoping to have a Christmas Ball.”
Emily’s problems started after gaining a dance scholarship, where she says she was encouraged to be skinny.
The aspiring actress said: “I’ve been a dancer since the age of three, it’s something I’ve always been passionate about.
“I got a scholarship to a dance school and music theatre college when I was 17, and during that time I was a normal size – not a ‘dancer’ size.
“I was encouraged to be skinny, and made to feel uncomfortable about my body, like I wouldn’t succeed unless I lost weight.
“I was so unhappy and I was really unwell, I wasn’t eating at all and it affected my mental health.
“I was very skinny, I was obsessed with my eating and it was unhealthy – I would make myself sick and not eat.
“I had to stop going in the end – I didn’t want to go in because I couldn’t function, I wasn’t eating or sleeping.
“I didn’t want to live like that, and over time, I accepted that I would always be a fuller size.
“I’m pursuing a career in acting and normal people need to be represented, we’re not all born incredibly skinny, I’m naturally broad and I’m proud of my figure now.”
After leaving dance school, Emily moved to a theatre school.
She says she expected the attitude towards body shape to be different, but still felt the stigma of her normal sized body.
Emily added: “I started to feel more comfortable, and I told my teachers that I was going to be myself and that I had no interested in being a skinny ballerina.
“My quality of life has improved so much since I changed my thinking.
“I didn’t realise how much my life had been overtaken by thoughts about food and what other people thought.
“It was such a mental state, and it’s been a weight from my shoulders.”
Emily says after turning to mental health charity MIND for help with her anxiety, her confidence hugely improved.
She now wants to encourage girls to accept their bodies and get help by reaching out to mental health charities.
Emily works in event management at The Beaverwood Club, Chislehurst, and often supports mental health charities through her work there.
She says joining Miss British Beauty Curve has helped her come to terms with her size, and has encouraged her to help other young women do the same.
Emily said: “I am so proud for winning, it was the same when I won Miss London Beauty Curve.
“It’s given me such a good platform to speak to young adults in schools, and people take me seriously with the title.
“It’s helped me so much to join a likeminded family of women who are still active and healthy, but embrace their size.
“I still have thoughts about food, but I’m still active, I walk to work, walk the dog, and eat healthily.
“People need to remember that healthy doesn’t mean skinny, and I don’t want people to think they need to be skinny – people can die from that.”