From Baggy Sweats to Swimsuits on Stage – Sarah Taylor’s Journey in Plus Size Modeling

An honest and inspiring interview with Sarah Taylor Miss Plus Canada 2014/15

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1. Tell us about your journey – how has modeling changed you from your audition at Miss Plus Canada to now?

As a little girl I wanted to model, be in pageants and be on the runway but I never thought in a million years it would actually happen.   When I was little though I wanted to do this stuff because I thought it would mean that I was valuable, worthy and beautiful.  When I started my journey with Miss Plus Canada I had been through a few years of some intense inner healing so I really knew my value and worth and for the first time in my life I loved myself.

As doors have opened in the modeling industry I questioned, is this really what I want to do – mainly because I had attached doing this with validating who I was and now that I knew who I was and loved me, and didn’t need a ‘stamp of approval’ – was I sure I wanted to do this?   Well, I’ve figured out that I do want to and the reason I want to is because I’m such a girly girl and enjoy it – the whole thing, hair, make up, photographing, being on the runway, all of it.  But more importantly it’s more than just about modeling –  it’s a platform to give a message of hope, confidence and encourage other women to love themselves just as they are today! My passion is to help women see how valuable they are and to truly seek wholeness and balance in all areas of their life because out of that life is so much more enjoyable, you make wiser choices and you can in turn help other women strive for the same thing.

2. How was the Miss Plus Canada experience; being assessed and judged in front of so many people?

To be honest, I didn’t quite think about the ‘being assessed and judged’ aspect until night of the pageant and was standing in front of everyone.  For a split second I thought – what on earth did I sign up for?  I had no intention of winning, I had actually planned my life around not winning.   I just thought that it was a really cool experience and we’d see what happened.  But like with everything I do, I put my all into it and prepared in every way I knew how and people were either going to like me or not and at the end of the day I knew I loved me so whatever would happen, would happen.  I was so proud that I was in a place of confidence that I was prancing on a stage in a swimsuit and 6 inch pumps – like come on!

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Sarah on right, age 16

The girl who wore baggy clothes all her life because she was ashamed of her body had now embraced all 317 pounds of her beauty and walked with her head held high in a swimsuit and a massive smile on her face.

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The whole experience with Miss Plus Canada was such an amazing one.  I met so many awesome people, learned so much and it’s opened so many more doors.  I am forever grateful.

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Sarah Taylor at Miss Plus Canada 2014 Pageant, wearing Swimsuits For All, Photo by Rebecca Northcott Photography

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Sarah Taylor at Miss Plus Canada Pageant 2014, Photo by Rebecca Northcott Photography

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Sarah Taylor at Miss Plus Canada Pageant 2014, Photo by Rebecca Northcott Photography

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Sarah Taylor at Miss Plus Canada Pageant 2014 with her Mom, Photo by Rebecca Northcott Photography

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Left to right, Trisha Hillary, Kaity Wuebbolt, Shannon Thompson, Sarah Taylor at Miss Plus Canada Pageant 2014 Photo by Rebecca Northcott Photography

3. What is something embarrassing or personal no one knows about you?

When I get overtired I’m beyond silly and usually end up in laughing fits that I cannot control….my little sister has had lots of entertainment from this….

As for some embarrassing things…I scare really easy and being as expressive as I am I often end up surprising myself with my reactions.  My childhood pics are also rather embarrassing – from my mullet to mushroom cuts to a horrible fashion sense.

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Sarah, age 7

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Sarah on right, age 10

4. What do you do for a living and for fun after work?

Currently I work in the energy field at a steam plant as the Executive Personal Assistant to the President.  We are under construction right now so by day I have traded in my heels and crown for a steel toe boots and a hot pink hard hat.  This is a very recent career change as the last 5 years I’ve spent in the Non-Profit industry helping Tier 1 Canadian and US charities with their fundraising strategy and implementation (tele and online fundraising).

Sarah at work, pink hard hat & all!

Sarah at work, pink hard hat & all!

I also volunteer at a ​WINGS ​Maternity Home in Ajax as the assistant to the director, event coordinator, fundraising manager and help her with her marketing (web and print), etc.  I also mentor the girls and lead our group called SOAR in the home (www.wingsmaternityhome.com).

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Sarah on left at WINGS Maternity (Volunteer)

As for fun, I love to travel … I love to go out dancing. I have an amazing family and a great circle of friends and I’m always up for doing something with them … Hanging out with my 5 year old nephew is also the highlight of my week.  I’m also really active (I actually enjoy working out).  Life is for the living so I’m really up for whatever comes my way.

Sarah (right) and her Sister

Sarah (right) and her Sister

5. How do you find time for modeling and volunteering, and yourself?

This is something I’ve recently learned actually.  My parents divorced when I was 21 and I had to work 2 full time jobs to help pay the bills while finishing my college education.  My identity became all the things I could do and conquer and I lost a lot of who I was and was very performance driven to please others.  After my divorce about 3 years ago and getting laid off shortly after our separation, I was brought to a place where I had to focus on me and getting whole on the inside and the outside.  Learning this has come in stages but I’ve really learned that my body needs to rest, I need to have some time for myself and that it really is ok to ‘Be Still’.  Learning to say no and have healthy boundaries was really hard but I have learned that it is necessary to stay healthy.  I really see that everything in life has to be balanced – living in extremes is unhealthy for long periods of time.

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Click here to watch Sarah talk more about this point on our YouTube channel.

6. What would you tell young women struggling with weight and body image?

This is a message I’m so passionate about getting across to women…. Don’t wait to love yourself, love who you are today!  The number on that scale does not define you!  You are unique, you are beautiful, you are valuable just the way that you are and you are worthy of immense love. Learning to love who you are is a process but it’s so necessary.  If I had learned to love myself and really saw my value and worth when I was younger I wouldn’t have made such unwise choices and I likely wouldn’t have entered into a marriage with a man who was abusive and unfaithful.   When we are unhealthy on the inside we often make poor choices.  You deserve greatness because you are great!  One of the tools I used to see my value and worth was by writing out all of the qualities I loved about myself and that others said over me and I put them up over my mirror and around my bedroom and I would repeat them out loud until I believed them.  This is a great first step in really learning to love who you are and seeing your immense value.

7. What are your thoughts on the current trends in plus size modeling, do you think retailers should continue what they’re doing or use larger models to represent a greater diversity of their clients?

I think we are starting to see a little bit of change when it comes to diversity in plus size models but I think we need more of it.  I know that for me personally I’m not only plus size but I’m tall, so I always look for a woman who is my size and my height modeling clothing.  For example – a short bodycon dress on a girl who’s 5’7 is very different on me because I’m 5’11.  There are a few designers/retailers that state the size and height of those in their garments and I love that – it actually helps give you a better idea of what something will look like on you. I think it’s also so great to see more diversity in terms of size because not all plus size women are a size 12 or 14.  We have curves, lumps and bumps in a lot of different places.

8. If you could say something to your ’10-years ago self’ regarding body image and self confidence, what would you say?

There is so much I would say to my younger self, like:  Love yourself today, you are beautiful just the way you are, that the number on the scale doesn’t define you and to accept the love that others give you rather than push it away.  Life’s goals should not be to get skinny and get a man – there is so much more to life than that. I would also tell her do not disqualify yourself from anything, try everything and dream BIGGER.

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Sometimes I kick myself for not listening to my mom when I was younger but then I remember that if I didn’t go through all I did, I wouldn’t be who I am today or where I am today and I wouldn’t have this message of hope to share with other women.

9. Congratulations on being selected to walk in Full Figured Fashion Week 2015. What do you hope to get from the experience, and what are your dreams for the future?

Thank you so much – I’m over the moon excited about the opportunity!!  It’s also really surreal – If you told me a year ago that I was going to be crowned Miss Plus Canada, start modeling and even be heading to New York City to hit the runway – I probably would have laughed at you.

As for the event itself, I’m planning on enjoying every aspect of the week – from being in the shows, to the different parties and networking events, etc.  I hope to represent #TeamCanada well on the runway and I’m hoping for this to open some more doors for the future and explore the possibility of working with an agency.

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I’ve started to dream bigger these days because what I thought was impossible has happened and I’m honestly in awe at how much God has blessed me and really turned my ashes into something beautiful.  I would really love to continue modeling and expand my portfolio but my heart’s desire is to spend my life building other women up, empowering them to walk into their full destiny and really learn to love and embrace who they are giving them the ability to live a whole life (mind, body, soul and spirit).  I’ve got a few things in the planning stages so keep your eye out for what’s to come. One day, I’d like to have kids but for now, I’m going to embrace life and enjoy it – I’m no longer waiting for the fairy tale ending to have an amazing life – I’m living it now.​

Stay beautiful!

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Sarah modeling for SexyPlus Clothing (www.sexyplusclothing.com)

Sarah modeling for SexyPlus Clothing (www.sexyplusclothing.com)

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Sarah modeling for SexyPlus Clothing (www.sexyplusclothing.com)

Sarah modeling for SexyPlus Clothing (www.sexyplusclothing.com)

Sarah (left) and Tierra Sedgemore (right) modeling for SexyPlus Clothing (www.sexyplusclothing.com)

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