Since the Ms Plus Size is Me South Africa pageant was held for the first time in the Free State in 2016, the beauty contest for curvy women has grown in leaps and bounds. The pageant, which is already popular in this province, as well as in others, now makes provision for three categories: married contestants, unmarried contestants (in both cases 19 to 40 years old) as well as teenagers (14 to 18 years). Bloemfontein will again host this year’s final, during which Ms Plus Size is Me South Africa will be crowned. The event is scheduled for 7 April in the Bloemfontein Civic Theatre. It will see 23 finalists taking to the big stage.The pageant was started for married women in the province as part of celebrating Women’s Day in South Africa in 2016. A total of 20 models took to the catwalk at this event in 2016. The finalists were from the Free State, Mpumalanga, the North West, Gauteng, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. The plus-size beauty pageant was established locally thanks to a concerted effort by Samuel “Chief” Leeuw, who popularised the concept, inspiring several full-figured women. Through the Chief Leeuw Foundation, he continues to work hard to turn the pageant into a premier event in the Free State and the country. “This is a platform for full-figured South African women to showcase their beauty, brains and value,” said Leeuw. He spoke on the sidelines at the media function of the pre-pageant final held in Bloemfontein on 1 March.The inclusion of the teens category, according to Leeuw, proves that well-shaped females show a sense of pride and that they value themselves. “In 2016, single and unmarried women requested that they be accommodated, following the success of the section for married women. “We now have a section for teenagers as well, following their request to be accommodated.”Adding prestige to the pageant is the possibility for senior categories to be featured internationally, which would allow participants to compete against others from countries which also stage plus-size pageants. Tickets for the crowning cost R120 per person. Dial 076-376-0721 or 072-950-0032 for more information.