By Alyssa Schnugg
For several years, Shannon Thweatt fought to learn to love herself again and now she wants to help other women do the same by being an example and showing all women they deserve to wear a crown and “be the queen they were meant to be.”
Thweatt, an Oxford native, will represent Mississippi in the National Miss Plus America Pageant in September.
In 2013, Thweatt herself didn’t feel very beautiful. After breaking her ankle in a vehicle crash, she was bed-ridden for almost eight months. Her weight went from 140 pounds to 220 pounds.
After she was able to walk and exercise, she struggled to lose the weight she had gained. She was soon diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder that makes losing weight more difficult.
“I didn’t feel like myself,” Thweatt said. “I was getting depressed. It was a trying time of my life.”
Soon Thweatt realized that while her body had changed, her spirit and confidence in herself hadn’t.
“I totally owned it,” she said. “I don’t feel anyone should be ashamed of themselves and women should feel beautiful no matter what size they are.”
Thweatt learned about the Tri-Lakes Pageant for St. Jude in Water Valley in January 2017.
“I said, ‘OK, let’s do this,’” she said. “I thought at the time this is for fun and charity, so why not?”
She took home the crown in the plus-size division and experienced her first “pageant high.”
She has since won several other titles, including the Miss Curvy Mississippi and Curvy Miss International Woman.
She’s done runway shows and is a plus-sized model with Holland Management.
She’s now one of the local directors of the Tri-Lakes Pageant, raising $10,000 for St. Jude at this year’s pageant in February.
“I took some time off of pageants and decided I wanted to direct and help others,” she said.
Also at the Tri-Lakes Pagent in February, Thweatt met local make-up artist Laura Hood.
“She saw me directing the girls and asked me why I wasn’t still doing pageants myself,” Thweatt said.
Hood volunteered to be Thweatt’s sponsor and manager and the two set their sights on the Miss Plus America Pageant.
“Some people do this just for themselves, but Shannon isn’t like that,” Hood said. “She’s not fake.”
Thweatt was crowned Miss Mississippi Plus in April in Jackson.
“It’s just been a whirlwind,” she said. “The thing that I always tell others, is that it’s not the crown that defines the queen. It is how you use that crown to help other people to find the queen or king within themselves.”
While preparing for the national pageant in September, Thweatt and Hood are also planning a fundraising pageant in August in Water Valley.
The Magical Beauties of Mississippi Pageant will be held Aug. 10 in the Civic Auditorium in Water Valley. There will be categories for everyone, Thweatt said, including people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, plus-sized, seniors, men and children of all ages.
Proceeds from the pageant will help with Thweatt’s travel expense to the Miss America Plus Pageant and a donation to St. Jude’s Children Hospital.
Entry fee is $35 for beauty only. Optionals, like Most Photogenic, are an additional $15.
For more information about the pageant or to receive an entry form, contract Thweatt at 662-816-0032 or Hood at 662-715-1959.