By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
Some of us would like to blame our jeans when we discover they’re too tight to hoist over our hips.
But we can’t because somewhere inside our heads, a little voice says it’s all our fault. And the picture-perfect models we see on TV only make us feel worse.
“In the media, on the Internet, everything you see today says that plus-sizes are bad,” said Sabrina Mathis of Hutto, the Temple native who was crowned Ms. Plus America 2007 on June 7. “And these days, you’re considered overweight if you’re anything over a size 14. The message should say, ‘you can be beautiful and overweight.’”
The extra weight shouldn’t send a person headfirst into depression, she said.
“It’s important to love yourself and the skin you’re in,” Mathis said. “Forget about counting calories. It’s more important to maintain a body that is happy and healthy. And that’s a different thing for each person.”
Her passion for encouraging overweight people to feel comfortable with themselves stems from her youth.
“As I was growing up, weight was a sensitive subject,” Mathis said. “I was shy and thought that because I was fat, nobody would like me.”
It wasn’t until her freshman year in college at the age of 18 that Mathis said she realized most people value others for “what’s on the inside.”
Participating in the contest reinforced that lesson, she said joyfully.
Coronet Productions, a beauty pageant production company based in Farmerville, La., sponsors the annual Plus Size America beauty contest.
“We are committed to the plus-size woman. We believe that all women are beautiful, inside and out, and they deserve a chance to promote those causes closest to her heart with a title worthy of her representation,” said Melissa Stamper, executive director at Coronet Productions. “The Miss Plus America Pageant System is an organization devoted to celebrating the essence of the full-figured woman.”
This year’s beauty contest took place June 3-7 at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas. There were three age divisions: the Miss category for single women 29 and under, Ms. for single women 30 and up, and Mrs. for married women.
A 1994 Temple High School graduate, Mathis competed in the Ms. category.
Points from an on-stage interview contributed 50 percent of each contestant’s total score. The five-seven minute interviews were to focus on current events, the war in Iraq and personal ideals.
A principal at a school in the Hutto district, Mathis said the discussion in her interview hit the additional topics of education and community awareness.
“It is my ultimate desire to sit down with the governor of Texas as well as the Secretary of education and discuss some of issues concerning public education and possible educational goals and strategies for the future,” Mathis said, according to a typed copy of what she had said in her on-stage interview.
Results from the evening and athletic wear portions of the contest determined the remaining half of the contestants’ scores.
“There were 15 finalists at the end of the first round,” Ms. Mathis said, explaining that there were 50 contestants, one from each state.
She was in Temple the first few days after the contest to celebrate her victory with family and friends. Her parents are Clarence and Glenda Mathis of Temple.
“I was so glad to get home for a bit,” Mathis said. “I wanted to get away from all the attention.”
Very proud of herself, Mathis said this victory is for her students.
“I want them to know that no matter who you are, God still loves you and he has a path clearly drawn for you,” Mathis said. “You just have to be willing to take the first step, and he will lead you the rest of the way.”