What was supposed to be an empowering event for plus-size women in the region has instead left them feeling anything but. One delegate of the Miss Plus Size Universe that was set to take place on November 5th right here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has shared her experience with the pageant organizer.
Miss Eugeney Bailey, Antigua and Barbuda’s representative in the Miss Plus Size Universe pageant spoke with ANN, she provided details of her experience from accommodation to the night of the show.
Miss Bailey shared with us her interaction with Miss Pearl Williams, who had contacted her about entering the pageant as a delegate.
‘I was contacted by Miss Pearl Williams–when she contacted me about the show, basically she was asking me if I wanted to be a delegate in her show, and at the time I wasn’t too sure about being in a pageant because I had never been in a pageant, I didn’t know what it entailed or anything of that nature, but, you know, speaking with her, she assured me that everything would be fine, everything would be okay, and being that I have an organization over here for plus size women, I felt like if I go and I represent my country and also my organization, this is something that would benefit us in the long run, you know as being women in plus size,’ Bailey said.
According to Eugeney she was financed by several sponsors as well as footing the bill for some expenses on her own. At the time of our interview with her she was unable to state exactly how much she had paid out of pocket during her time taking part in the pageant.
Eugeney Bailey arrived here in SVG on October 31st ahead of the November 5th date set for the pageant where she stayed at the Mariner’s Hotel at her own expense until November second when she was picked up by Miss Williams and taken to new accommodations. Bailey said she had expected to be transferred to another hotel but was instead taken to an apartment building.
The apartment in question was Samuel Apartments in Prospect. Bailey however had no complaints about the apartment, going on to state that she was comfortable and that the room was very clean. Her only issue being the lack of close proximity to grocery shops.
‘I was comfortable, it wasn’t dirty to say it was a dirty place, it was a clean place. The only thing I had an issue with there, was that we didn’t have somewhere close by like a little grocery store where we could go and get water, juice or little snacks like that,’
She noted that the accommodation at the apartment was paid for by Miss Williams.
According to Bailey, housing, as well as make-up, food and more were all part of a US $1,000 registration package that she and other delegates had paid.
Eugeney then shared with us her experience on the night of the show.
‘The night of the show, I was there, I and my chaperone were there because I did not have to go back to the room because I packed all of my things that morning and when my chaperone came down she brought all of my things because I left the morning to go into town with her assistance to get something I would need for the pageant.’
The Antigua and Barbuda delegate shared with us how the rain made an already sketchy situation even worse.
‘Now, it was raining on and off the day and so by the time the other delegates left to go back to the room–to the apartment–they all left to get their things to return to the show. I was still there, me and my chaperone were still there.
It started to rain pretty heavily and at this time I was in hair and makeup and so the lady that was doing the makeup, Miss Browne, she called Pearl and told her that it was raining really bad and that rain was coming down on the stage, and so it was told to Miss Browne that Miss Pearl’s husband wanted to go ahead with the show because the rain would eventually stop, but then I called her, and when I was speaking to her by this time she was already–this is where she postponed the show,’
From that point Miss Bailey’s not did not get any better as trouble would arise in the form of transportation from the venue back to her apartment.
‘But then I called her and I asked her if she would send back the taxi for us, me and my chaperone, since she postponed the show. She asked me to turn my phone around and show her a video of the stage and I showed her the stage, of course there was no way the show could have happened because water was coming down on the stage, the show couldn’t happen. SHe then proceeded to tell me that all of the delegates spoke and said that they wanted to postpone to the next day,’
She noted that she took no issue with this and was willing to take part in the pageant the next day. However she had still not received a ride back from the venue.
‘We were sitting there waiting for the taxi to come back and the taxi never come back so I called her, called her three times but she did not answer her phone, so I asked my chaperone to call the taxi that picked her up from the airport to see if he could come and get us and take us back to the apartment and it just so happened when she called he was outside.’ she said.
She said if it were not for having that taxi contact her and her chaperone had no clue as to how they were getting back to the apartment that night. A situation that was made worse by the high instances of sex trafficking Bailey says that Miss Williams had warned her about.
‘Otherwise than that I don’t know how we would have gotten back there, and with all the sex trafficking that she told us happens in St. Vincent, you would have thought she would have asked me or called to see if I got back safely to my room and she never did,’.
Eugeney goes on to tell us more about the claims of sex trafficking made by Miss Williams.
‘For many months when we would ask her where we would be staying, she said she didn’t want to give the name of where we would be staying because St. Vincent has so much sex trafficking’
The Miss Plus Size Universe pageant would ultimately never take place, however, the delegates having already paid US$ 1,000 to register for the pageant were not offered refunds, Bailey said in the case of some delegates, they had paid even more than that amount.
‘There was no refund. She said because she invest $64,000 or $61,000 we had to suffer the loss, we had to suffer that loss’
The pageant, originally billed to have 19 contestants, only saw six registered before the November 5th show date, one of the signs of trouble that Eugeny had noticed. She also noted that one of the contestants was not even plus sized.
Pertaining to an explanation for the significant decrease in the delegates, Bailey said an explanation was only given for one, where Miss Pearl said that one delegate was depressed and had decided not to participate.
Miss Bailey says that her overall experience in SVG for the pageant was not very pleasant and highlighted that this was especially troubling because of the involvement of plus sized women.
‘For plus sized women we go through a lot already in society and to have a show and say that it is an empowerment show where our confidence and our self esteem and all of these things were supposed to be at the highest level, it was not.’
She also noted that breakfast on most days, provided by pageant, would only consist of three apples and a local juice. She also complained of dinner where contestants were not provided with balanced meals, being taken out for chicken and fries numerous times during their stay.
A new date for the postponed pageant has been set for March 4th 2023, but according to Bailey, none of the pageants who took part in the pageant this year will be able to make a return. She also disclosed that if they were to return, that a suspicious promise was made to them by Miss Pearl Williams pertaining to funding this time around, with her claiming that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be footing the bill this time.
Eugeny expressed that going public has not been an easy task, and has been compounded by the fact that she is the only one coming forward to air her grievances, she noted that there are some experiences that she is unable to share because involve delegates who wish not to come forward.
She said she had engaged in an hours-long phone call with Miss Williams, with Williams having a lawyer present on her behalf. She could not recall the identity of the lawyer during our interview but noted that the lawyer was female.
The prize promised for the Miss Plus Size Universe pageant was US $10,000. But unfortunately, contestants were not even allowed to compete in a pageant for that prize but instead left St. Vincent and the Grenadines with nothing but lost money, broken spirits, broken promises, and trauma.
Eugeney Bailey, Antigua and Barbuda’s representative in Miss Plus Size Universe International pageant 2022.