By Latrishka Thomas
The hopes of six women were crushed earlier this month when they were told that the pageant they had been preparing for over several months had been cancelled.
The Miss Plus Size Universe International pageant 2022 was originally slated to be held in June but was postponed to November 5, in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Forty-nine-year-old Eugeney Bailey, of Antiguan parentage, was the twin island’s representative in the pageant that included five other plus sized women from around the globe.
But Bailey said that not only was she and many of the other girls saddened by the news of a cancellation, but they were also “misled” and “scammed”.
She told Observer that each contestant had to pay a registration fee of US $1,000 to the pageant’s organiser, Pearl Williams, to cover accommodation, food, hair, make-up and transportation, an amount which, according to her “would be more than enough if you put the money to where you said it was going to go to”.
The mother of six said that their original itinerary was scrapped, they were not fed properly and they were housed at an apartment instead of a hotel.
She said that she noticed some subtle red flags from the beginning of the process.
“I inquired beforehand of where we were staying but she refused to tell me, saying that she [the organiser] had to keep that information a secret ‘due to the high rise of human sex trafficking in St Vincent’,” Bailey stated.
She further explained that she wanted the address because she was flying into the country two days before the pageant and preferred to stay near to the ‘hotel’ that was picked out for them.
“She gave me a bogus hotel name that was not even in St Vincent,” Bailey alleged.
Bailey went on to share that the meals they were given were not satisfactory.
She said that some of their meals comprised of “fruits and soda” then “one piece of chicken, some mashed potatoes and vegetable” and “we didn’t eat again until 8pm when she took us to a bar when we thought we would be taken to a fancy restaurant”.
“The food we got was not appropriate. We paid our money. We expected better. We were not eating properly. We were hungry,” Bailey exclaimed.
She said when some of the girls requested to purchase groceries or refused to eat chicken and fries, they were “belittled” and spoken to “as if we were five year olds.”
According to the Antigua and Barbuda representative, they were told that the pageant would be cancelled because they “did not have an audience and no prize money because of ticket sales and no transport for people to come”.
And, despite two of the six contestants failing to arrive on time, Bailey and some of the others felt that “the show must go on in some kind of way because we have a responsibility to our country and to our sponsors to carry on a show.
“If you are doing a show of that magnitude, prize money should be secured beforehand and whatever is made at the door that is your return from what you invested in your pageant,” Bailey added.
She said that it also rained heavily on the night of the show and they were told that it would take place the following day, which was sunny, but that did not happen.
Bailey also claimed that Williams acted “unethically” when “she told one of the members who won one of the segments before the show even finished or continued on”.
At the very least, Bailey believed that the women should have been given an apology because “no one was satisfied.
“Some want to just forget the whole thing. Some are committed to their government because their government was the one that sponsored them. I don’t know if they are scared to open up and say what needs to be said. The smiles that you see on those girls faces, those were just smiles to try to push through and get home,” she added.
Bailey told Observer that she wants her money back, having gotten sponsorships from companies such as InterCaribbean.
“I’d like to recoup my registration fee … and if I can even get some of the sponsorship money that was even given,” she concluded.
Meanwhile, Renee Edwards-Ambrose, the first Antiguan to enter the contest in 2013, said she had an almost identical experience.
She said she did not pay the registration fee because Williams “was a little bit sketchy about it” when she probed for specifics.
Instead, she paid for everything she needed herself.
Edwards-Ambrose said then when she arrived in Trinidad that year, no one was at the airport to pick up the delegates and when they called, they were then informed that the show had been postponed to two weeks later.
She said that she stayed in Trinidad for two days and then went back to Antigua to await the new date.
Two weeks later, the girls flew back to Trinidad and they were accommodated at a hotel.
But the drag racer noticed that there were six fewer delegates than had been originally advertised.
“She advertised 15 delegates but only nine showed up and she gave the same excuses saying their flight was cancelled [and] they couldn’t make it because LIAT’s schedule was messed up,” Edwards-Ambrose shared
But having been a LIAT employee at the time, Edwards-Ambrose apparently looked into the matter and found that Williams had been lying.
She said that the show went on but it appeared to have been biased.
She said that the winner that year was Ms Suriname who, up to almost 10 years later, had not received her prize money.
“Ninety percent of the ladies do not want to have a conversation about [Williams] because it’s [seems] scammish and con artist.”
Edwards-Ambrose decided to speak up after seeing Bailey in tears, sharing a similar experience on Facebook
“That ignorance that Ms Pearl is doing, we don’t want that to happen to anyone else, especially those in our circle,” she remarked.
Meanwhile, Williams has declined to comment on matter.
Two of the other contestants, who refused to be identified, also claimed to have had a negative experience.
The other contestants either refused to comment or could not be reached.