COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and 38-year-old Shanta Patrick, the newly crowned Mrs. Columbus Plus America 2015, says she hopes to be a living proof of this statement.
The beauty queen is proud to be a size 16 and she's proud of how far she's come to embrace her inner and outer beauty.
"I've always been heavier than others," Patrick said. "I always joke with people and say I was born at 9 pounds and I kept growing and never stopped."
The Mrs. Columbus Plus America pageant was Patrick's first pageant she ever competed in, and Patrick says she's excited to compete in the Mrs. Georgia Plus America Pageant in April 2015.
"I'm very excited, and my life has changed tremendously over the past few years," Patrick explained. "I've learned to love myself and have a positive self-esteem, no matter what size I am."
Patrick is a proud mother of five, a supportive wife, a plus-size model, an active member of Project Curve Appeal, an organization that allows her to speak to girls of all ages about positive body image. She's also a full-time doctoral student at Columbus State University and a fifth grade English/Language arts teacher at Wynnton Arts Academy.
"I keep moving forward," Patrick said. "I'm always busy but I have a very supportive family."
Although Patrick may seem like a confident woman who seemed to have figured everything out, she said she battled insecurities in the past as well.
"It wasn't always easy for me," Patrick explained. "I struggled with my weight and I didn't always like myself. It was difficult for me to think I was beautiful because I was big. There was a time when I weighted over 300 pounds, and there were lot of negative issues that were happening in my life. I was also getting out of a bad relationship and I lost myself in darkness and insecurities. But one day, I decided to get up from my couch and be active again. I hit the gym since 2007, and I started to eat right just to regain my self-esteem."
Patrick became a plus-size model since 2011, and she said eating right and exercising made her feel confident again.
"I lost about 100 pounds," Patrick said. "But my goal wasn't to lose weight. I just wanted to feel healthy and confident again. I want people, especially women to know we can all feel confident and beautiful whatever size we may be."
Patrick also launched a program called "Dazzle" and she combined reading, music, art, drama and dance to empower young girls to embrace a positive body image and to build their self-esteem.
"We are all talented and we have so much to give and offer," Patrick said. "I want all women to feel confident and to know we are all worthy of giving back to the community. I want to help women and girls who struggle with weight and body image to embrace their inner and outer beauty. I want everyone to understand we are all valuable and beautiful."
Youth organizations, churches and schools interested in working with Patrick and getting involved with her "Dazzle" program, they can email
Patrick for more information.
Patrick also says plus size ladies interested in getting involved in Project Curve Appeal can also reach out to her via email as well or contact her via Facebook.