Kirstie Mouncey
Big moment … teenager Kirstie Mouncey, from Hull, in her prom dress  
GAZING at her reflection, Kirstie Mouncey places a tiara on her head and gives a dazzling smile to the mirror.
Like many other girls, 17-year-old Kirstie dreams of being crowned a beauty queen.

But the childcare assistant is not like most teenagers in Britain.

She weighs 26½st, is a dress size 32 and has a body mass index (BMI) of 68, making her morbidly obese.

However, the blonde teenager is determined that her colossal size won’t get in the way of her beauty pageant dreams.

Kirstie is the youngest and largest entrant in Miss Big Beautiful Woman (BBW) International and is competing against 300 other large ladies for the crown.

The competition is the first of its kind, with plus-sized women from all over the world auditioning to be part of the pageant’s London-based final in November.

Kirstie, from Hull, insists she LOVES her body and hopes she will beat the other contestants to win the title.

Kirstie Mouncey
Pageant … Big Beautiful Woman contestants
She says: “When I was growing up I always dreamed of being a beauty queen.

"Now, thanks to big women being acknowledged for their beauty, my dream can finally come true.

"I may be a big girl but I’ve learnt to love myself and I want to show other big teenagers that they can be beautiful too.

"Big girls — even 26st girls like me — can be pageant princesses as well.

"Some people will probably criticise me, but I’m not here to promote obesity. I just want women to feel confident about their body, as I do.

"I don’t criticise skinny women in beauty pageants, so I don’t think it’s fair to make the BBW pageant contestants feel bad just because we are big.”

At 5ft 3ft Kirstie has a BMI three times that of an average woman, but she has not always been confident about her curves.

She says: “I started gaining weight from age six and would binge on biscuits and crisps. The bigger I got, the crueller other kids would be, which made me take comfort in food.

"Food made me feel safe and loved. I was embarrassed to eat in front of anyone because people would tease me.

Kirstie Mouncey
Confident in her body … Kirstie with male admirer Alex   
"So I ate bad foods in private. It was a spiral that made my weight increase very quickly over the years.”

By the age of ten, Kirstie weighed 11st and by 14 she had ballooned to 20st.

She explains: “I had low self-esteem, I comfort ate, and got larger and larger.

"Children at school bullied me relentlessly and I hated it.

"I dreaded certain classes, like PE because I had to get undressed. Instead of changing in front of the other girls, I’d barricade myself in the toilet cubicle to put on my PE kit.

"Girls can be very cruel and I was an easy target.

"Every teenage girl wants to look like a supermodel. I looked the opposite. But I am not after sympathy — it’s just how my life has been.”

From the age of 15, Kirstie threw herself into dieting.

She tried soup diets, shake diets, Weight Watchers and even the controversial baby food diet.

She says: “I tried every fad diet going, but I never stayed on them for very long. If I’d had a bad day, my self-esteem would plummet and I’d turn to comfort eating. Any weight I lost, I put back on again.”

As the biggest girl in her class, Kirstie dreaded her school prom.

But after spending more than £300 on a silk purple diamante and crystal covered prom dress, her confidence grew.

This was the night she finally began to accept her size 32 frame.

She recalls: “I remember looking in the mirror and thinking that I looked gorgeous. Everyone said so.

"It was my dream prom and that silk dress will be one of my pageant dresses. I can’t wait to wear it on the catwalk.”

Another reason for Kirstie’s increased self-esteem was meeting “fat admirer” Alex Boakye, 29, online in November 2010. The pair got chatting on a forum for BBW women to meet fat admirers.

Kirstie and Alex, from Hammersmith, west London, started messaging each other and met a month later when Alex travelled to Hull.

She says: “I was nervous about meeting Alex for the first time but we got on so well.

"He likes me for who I am and he’s my soul mate.”

Alex, a retail assistant, admits he is a fat admirer and 26st Kirstie is his dream girl. He says: “I love the scale of big girls — the way they look and carry themselves.

"Kirstie has a special radiance about her. When we’re out together, we might get some odd looks, but we just concentrate on each other and no one else.”

With her new-found confidence, Kirstie heard about the pageant on a forum for BBW and knew she had to enter.

She explains: “Within a year I’d gone from being a shy and bullied girl to a confident and proud woman.

"I wanted to show off my curves and represent BBW teens around the world.”

Last month, Kirstie auditioned for the Miss BBW International pageant, which was created by Linda Koch, herself a plus-size lady.

Linda says: “We’ve had over 300 girls enter from all over the UK and the world.

"Contrary to what people might think, we are not promoting being fat or obesity.

"We provide a platform for plus-size people to feel good about themselves.

"Kirstie is an inspiration and braver than most women.”

During the finals, contestants will all be asked to model day wear, beach wear and ball gowns. They will be judged in interview technique, mission statements and modelling ability.

While the pageant may celebrate the lives of obese women, the nation is aware of how dangerous binge eating can be.

Kirstie has been following the tragic story of Georgia Davis, 19, who was cut free from her home in Aberdare, weighing 56st.

Now Georgia is in hospital and getting 24-hour care from nurses. Kirstie says: “I do feel terribly sorry for Georgia. She must have been desperately unhappy to get so big, but there is always a reason people comfort eat.

"I know what it’s like to be bullied and can only imagine her suffering.

Kirstie Mouncey
‘I am a big girl and proud’ … Kirstie, 17   
"When she’s better and out of hospital, she should attend one of the BBW parties.

"It would help build her confidence and she might even meet a nice fat admirer.”

Now that she loves her curves, Kirstie will only diet for health reasons.

She says: “I’d like to lose a bit of weight and not get out of breath when I walk up stairs, but I will never be Kate Moss.

"I don’t have any diseases to do with being obese. I feel healthy and I am a big girl and proud of that.”

The teenager also harbours an ambition to model plus-sized clothes and design her own range for big teens.

"BBW is a growing phenomenon and I find it so hard to find clothes to fit.

"There’s a gap in the market — bigger women want to feel pretty and sexy too.

"I want to inspire other teen girls who are bullied because they are big.

"I urge people not to judge me simply because of my size. I accept all people so I hope they accept me.”

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