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America’s Next F.A.T. Model

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The City of Lights may never be the same now that Queen of Comedy Mo’Nique is in town ripping the runways of Paris with five big and beautiful women. This Saturday, "Mo’Nique’s F.A.T Chance Paris", a beauty pageant for plus-size women, begins as five curvacious hopefuls battle it out to see who will win the “Miss F.A.T.” crown. Celebrating its third season, the popular competition continues to redefine America’s standard of beauty through its acronymic moniker F.A.T. (Fabulous and Thick) and ethnically diverse contestants who include an African American U.S. Army veteran, an Italian medical biller and a Latina office manager.

This year, the ladies will compete in a series of boot camp challenges throughout the two-hour, televised special, which ends in an exclusive fashion show attended by Paris’s fashion elite including designers, models and media. Although the contest will definitely change the life of one of the five finalists, the experience also had a major impact on its host.

“It was absolutely life-changing for me,” Mo’Nique told Essence.com. “We did high-fashion photo shoots, walked the runways of Paris and did nude body painting.”

Baring all might have come au natural for the larger-than-life comedian and actress who admittedly feels comfortable in the buff, but others weren’t so receptive.

 “The Parisians were looking at us like, ‘Whadahell? What are we supposed to do?" Mo'Nique said. " I’m like, 'Get some more paint Sugar because you got to paint all of this.’”

Shedding more than clothes, Mo’Nique and the ladies lost their inhibitions and insecurities about living as plus-sized beauties in an image-conscious society. For these sisters, the nude painting was not simply about letting go, but a journey to self-discovery.

“The moment we dropped our towels, I watched those women and myself walk into freedom,” she said. “It was very emotional for all of us. We laughed and we cried. It really chokes me up because when you see it, you don’t see unattractiveness or shame from the women, all you see is true beauty."

Showcasing the curvaceous and proud, "Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance Paris" is more than a beauty pageant—it’s the evolution of a revolution. And Mo’ only hopes that her pageant continues to promote self-love and encourages self-acceptance.

“If Tyra Banks spoke about her beauty no one would question it, but when I speak of my beauty it’s up for debate because America has said looking the way I do is a bad thing,” she said.  “But, I dig Mo’Nique.”

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