Big and Beautiful in the U.K.
"Big girls have fun, too" is the rallying cry for Shelley Crawford, a designer, music aficionado, and party girl from Burnt Oak, Middlesex, England. She's taken her motto and transformed it into a travelling road show, where she hopes to impart the message that "as long as you look good, you feel good about yourself, and you're healthy and content, then weight is not an issue."
Crawford is also the reigning Miss Big and Beautiful U.K. She says she entered the contest on a whim, as a way to relieve the pressure of exams at the Royal Society for Arts. "I wanted to say, 'Here I am. I'm big and I'm beautiful.'"
While Crawford works as a store manager and buyer for Agnes b, a retail clothing chain with 82 stores worldwide, her effervescence is palpable when she talks about debuting her plus size line, Big Girls Clothing. She's thrilled with the bold prints in her swimwear, the vibrant colors of her lingerie, and her imaginative line of bridal wear. And she credits her mom with much of her inspiration.
Crawford, whose mother was a dressmaker and designer in Jamaica, says, "I've taken over where my mother left off." Together, the two design the clothing, and her mother accompanies Crawford on her travels.
Travelling could be Crawford's middle name. She's been to Belgium, Trinidad and Tobago, Miami and Canada, goes to Paris twice yearly on buying trips for Agnes b, and often hops the one-hour flight to Amsterdam, which she calls her "second home."
When Crawford's not travelling, she says, "I'm into going out, partying, eating, and dancing." Crawford and her girlfriends go partying once a month, and she and her boyfriend of four years, Errol, are always on the go during weekends. As Crawford puts it, "I have a very hectic lifestyle. It's quite buzzy."
She's also never without a tune, though that tune could be Mozart, Pavarotti, or Luther Vandross. "From the time I wake up until the time I get into bed, the CD player is on. If the music's not there, it's not happening for me."
In the future, Crawford sees herself as moving out of retail and designing and into presenting workshops and seminars. "Although it will be about fashion, it will mostly be about working with people one on one." Whatever the future holds for Crawford, you can be sure she'll be ready. "My boss says I'm always on a roll, because my personality just takes over."