WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Brittany Neely competed in local pageants in Greenville, North Carolina growing up, but thought those years were far behind her.

That was until she recently came across a competition unlike anything she had ever seen before: a pageant for full-figured women.

The now Winston-Salem resident and Winston-Salem State University alum decided to compete in this year’s Ms. Full-Figured North Carolina Pageant.

Neely would go on to win the pageant, becoming Ms. Full-Figured North Carolina 2022.

“With the pageant… our motto is ‘size has no barrier on beauty,’ because it doesn’t. We are all beautiful regardless of the size, and I feel like as women have to love our body through pregnancy, weight loss, gain, it’s just a lot of areas that we go through with our bodies, and we have to love every part,” Neely said.

Neely is using her platform of self-love and body positivity to encourage women and youth. “It starts when you’re young. It’s these babies. We’ve got to raise them up to let them know to love themselves,” she said. “I have a son. I tell him all the time, ‘you’re handsome,’ because they need that. Kids need that.”

As exciting as it has been to have this title since May, Neely says it’s about so much more than physical beauty.

Community service and outreach are big parts of the pageant’s mission.

“I feel like I’m going to get a lot out of this. Learning just about myself, just being more confident, walking in my purpose.”

Neely will go on to compete for Ms. Full-Figured USA in Atlanta in November.