Renata Boes interview
Renata Boes from the Netherlands was a contender in the ‘Miss Maxi Nederland 2011’ (translated: Miss Maxi Netherlands 2011) - or MMNL for short - BBW model contest. It is an annual plus-size and Big Beautiful Women contest. In the following interview we talk about Renata's life and her participation in the contest. The interview was done in March 2011.
Note: This interview has been translated from Dutch, the native language spoken in the Netherlands. I apologize beforehand for any grammatical errors. Please contact me if you catch odd phrases so I can correct them. Writing English is not the same as translating from a different language.
Coen: Renata, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Renata: My name is Renata Boes, I am 36 years of age and live in Rotterdam [Netherlands]. I've been a professional chef in various restaurants, so cooking is really my passion! Not only for the love for food (because I love great tasting food!), but especially because of the creative aspect. I really need that in my life to express myself.
Coen: Have you always been a plus-size?
Renata: As a child I was already fairly husky, even in kindergarten. In my puberty this increased somewhat more and later I became a real full-figured woman. As long as I am husky, for just as long, I wrestle with diets. One period more so than the other, one period more successful than the other. I've lost a lot of weight very often, but (re)gained it just as often. At a certain moment in time I decided I wouldn't be unhappy because of my weight, and so I am not. I have both my feet on the ground even though I have my insecurities, but I have self-esteem and I feel good.
Coen: In your childhood and adolescence, did you frequently come across people who were critical of your weight?
Renata: Sometimes I do. Of course in life you always meet people who are critical about you or about your looks. That is not always easy, but my mother is a strong woman and she has taught me from an early age to not take too much criticism from others. And so I wouldn't. Bullying hasn't really been part of my life, even now later in life. I also believe it depends on what message you bring forth.
Coen: What was your motivation to lose weight? Were you curious or was something else involved, or perhaps more than one factor?
Renata: For me the motivation to lose weight was almost always related to my desire to wear beautiful fashion clothing. I love fashion clothing and my preference is mostly available only in the regular sizes, not so much in plus-sizes. This should really change! Designers need to realize that fat people don't just want to wear bags, or just nice clothing... but fashion clothing too! We too want to be hip!
Coen: How do you view the so-called BBW movement and its community?
Renata: I have a clear opinion about this. To begin with I am more than happy with the existence of the movement. There is a definite need for it, albeit not because of a sort of community feeling. For me personally this doesn't apply; I don't feel right about joining groups which are only focused on the physical side of BBW. And I know what I am talking about, because I also was a member of so-called plus-size dating sites. It is just not my cup of tea. On the contrary, I want to integrate into society (and I have the strong feeling I am already doing this) and I am of the opinion that all fat people should do this. Especially making your fatness not special creates a complete emancipation of the full-figured human being. I don't want to be honored or be found special because - or regardless - of my curves. I want to be found special because of who I am as a human being, how I live my life and for what I do. Likewise I would like to address society to copy this message and see ‘us’ as such. We are not equal (thin and fat look different, one not more beautiful than the other), but are equally human.
Coen: Then what do you think which initiatives besides plus-size and BBW contests, like the ‘Miss Maxi Nederland’, can positively attribute to promoting size acceptance?
Renata: Hmm, that's a hard question. I think the process of awakening can be accelerated by educating people. We should not be in the victim role. Education, via the media. I also think it is a good initiative if people from the plus-size community would unite and have a round table discussion with people from the ‘normal’ world. For example, the fashion industry: make sure that for once and for all the fashion model sector is professionalized. Educate models and agents, make agreements that plus-size fashion is also shown by plus-size models. Make fashion accessible for large sizes and keep the prices doable.
Also more society-based goals: No we won't pay twice as much for a plane ticket. Do people with a broken leg who take up more space also pay double? No, exactly. Education in schools, presentations, workshops, etc. Making a turn-around in the media - show more fat people! In soaps, in movies, as talents in talent shows! There is work to do!
Coen: Alright, so let's talk about ‘Miss Maxi Nederland’, the contest for plus-size and Big Beautiful Women.
Where did you hear about this contest and what prompted you to participate in it?
Renata: I read about it on the Internet. I decided to not register right away, but once I collected information about the thinking behind MMNL (the emancipation of the fuller woman), I decided that I wanted to support this cause and then I registered.
Coen: How many women applied for the contest?
Renata: I believe around 300.
Coen: Were you nervous at all in the first audition and if so how did you deal with that?
Renata: I was very nervous! The first round took place in Spijkenisse and tens of beautiful women had attended. Without any training we needed to show ourselves on the catwalk, present ourselves in our own clothing. The adrenaline rushed through my body! But it was very nice to do, it gave a real kick [rush]. I continued and afterward we were taken in to the organization right away, with much attention spent on everything to do with the modeling profession: catwalk training, photo shoots, too much to mention!
Coen: Do you see many women in your daily life that you think should participate in this contest?
Renata: To be honest I do not really pay attention to that. I know a lot of beautiful full-figured women, also a whole new club because of this contest. But not every full-figured woman is qualified to be a model, just like not every thin woman is. But that there are plenty of full-figured women out there, that is a fact!
Coen: When you see women that you feel are strikingly beautiful, but don't see themselves as such, and how does that affect you?
Renata: That I also don't really experience. Every woman has insecurities about herself, but women who do that in an extreme sense I really do not know.
Coen: Looking into the future, do you think more contests like this are necessary and do you think they will grow in participants in general?
Renata: Let me be clear: Miss Maxi Nederland has set the trend as the first, real professional contest for the full-figured woman [Edit by Coen: in the Netherlands]! Therefore I think they will continue to grow to become the national - and perhaps even the international top. Surely other initiatives will follow, which is not bad because the exposure is only a good thing. But Miss Maxi Nederland is unique in its concept and good thinking leads the way!
Coen: Thank you for doing this interview with me Renata.
Renata: Thank you for the opportunity!