Reigning Ms Plus Intercontinental T&T 2021, Cara Samlalsingh delivers her maiden official speech after being crowned on January 29.

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The T&T Plus World is a new T&T-based pageant launched less than a year ago by its national director, former Ms Plus Intercontinental Humanitarian Ambassador for 2019 in the Miss World Pageant, Adina Pollard-Simon. Two queens—a youth, titled Miss Plus World Trinidad and Tobago, and an adult, Ms Intercontinental T&T—are crowned and advanced to an international final competition.

At the inaugural queen competition on November 27 of last year, Miss Plus World T&T, Mekeila Miller and Ms Plus Intercontinental T&T, Cara Samlalsingh, were sashed.

Acclaimed stylist, artistic director and production designer, Richard Young, was chief judge.

Pollard-Simon stressed that the competition from its conception, is “not your traditional beauty pageant, but as the brand of the pageant elucidates, it caters to the beauty of full-figured that goes beyond countenance, but rungs of fitness, self-esteem, etiquette and intellectual beauty, and while a key preparation aspect are some rigorous exercise disciplines, it’s not about weight-loss, but a health-improvement journey.”

On January 29, Miller and Samlalsingh were finally bestowed their official title of Queen, following their crowning at a formal, safe-zoned ceremony at the St Joseph Community Centre.

In his remarks, Young said, “I think it’s wonderful for fuller-figured women to start, if they haven’t before, feeling that there is a space for them, and that they are not seen as being peripheral. They’re main-stream, more so, as diversity and inclusivity are the order of the day…” and promised to continue working with Pollard-Simon as he knows her purpose and passion are solid.

Standing out among the many notables who were recognised was Akil Thomas “aka The Beast”—the pageant’s fitness, health and dining etiquette coach, who whipped the delegates into approvingly-mental, physical and health form.

During his address, he stated that in general, he realises the plus-sized tend to feel alienated, and as a form of motivation, he tells them to never let their size prevent them from achieving their dreams, which he said he saw materialise during one of his fitness-ready tasks with the delegates—the trek to the Pines up Chancellor Hill. He observed hesitancy and fear transformed into confidence, determination and success.

Among their very insightful, inspiring and appreciative inaugural remarks as Queen, Miller and Samlalsingh thanked everyone who helped them.

Miller also stated that she always had a dream of becoming an ambassador for T&T long before entering the competition. “I always wanted to spread what T&T has to offer, so I thank God that pageantry was the door, and cannot wait to see what next the future holds, but I know threw God, great things are in the way.”

Samlalsingh lauded the success of her first-ever fundraiser—Charity Fundraiser—held on January 28, and specially acknowledged her “pageant sisters.” She quipped that her “feet had hurt badly, but it was a real honour looking at how many lives I can actually touch.” Part proceeds go to the RWB Aqua Stars Swim Club.

She dug at “The Beast”, referencing the Pines. “I’m asthmatic, but I had to show him my resilience and self-motivation that I can survive it. I told myself, I’m not to fall short! He cannot see me weak because I had something to prove, not to myself, but to the beast,” arousing laughter from the guests.

Her other bit of motivation she will be taking to the world before, during and after the finals is: “Everyone struggles at some time, and not necessarily trying to make it to the Pines, but in everyday life. If you fall short, put God first in everything that you do. He will always be in the midst to bless you. So hold strain! Hold strong! And as pageant mom, Adina Pollard-Simon advocates: ‘educate, motivate and smile’.”

Samlalsingh thanked her hair and wardrobe artist, Tyron Kerr of Kerr and Marcelle Designs.

The queens said that they are looking forward with pride to represent T&T in the final leg of the competition in Houston, Texas. They depart on March 8, where Miller will vie for Miss Plus World International, and, Samlalsingh, Ms Plus Intercontinental Humanitarian Ambassador and Ms Plus Intercontinental International, but can win only one of the titles.

Pollard-Simon thanked Richard Young, Donna Samlalsingh, Cafe Rustique, One Coin Deal Shaker, Active Rehab, Essential Look Nails & Beauty Salon, Gayelle The Caribbean, Calm Zone Massage Therapy, Kai Creations (Tobago), Bold Volume and Hair by Anais, Jillian John, Off the Grid Fitness, Akil Thomas, Annette Williams, LaToya Paul, Nyrene and Massai Fabien, Gayelle the Channel, and all others who contributed.