By NBF News
Click for Full Image Size

It is awesome how God lifts people. Did it ever occur to Christabel that she would ever be a queen with such massive size?

Heavy weight size that most people would ordinarily not want to identify with has brought her fame and fortune.

If anyone had prophesied that a fat girl would one day be given a chance in a beauty competition given the widely acclaimed notion that slim is beautiful, no one would believe it. After all, thin girls like Oluchi Onweagba and Agbani Darego won their titles on the basis of their slim figures.

Christabel Ike has broken the myth and has proved that something good can come out of women in the plus-size category.

Not only has Christabel become an instant celebrity, she can now proudly say that big is beautiful, after all.

She is the reigning Miss Big Nigeria queen. The Edo State-born girl was crowned in December 2009. The last child in a family of four, the new Miss Big Nigerian queen was born and bred in Kano but currently lives in Ibadan.

In this interview with Saturday Sun , the electrical engineering graduate spoke on her life as a beauty queen, the challenges of her position, expectations and plans for the future.

Here are excerpts
We learnt you were involved in a car crash?
Yes, I was involved in a terrible car crash two days after I was crowned. I really thank God that I am alive today, God has being faithful and merciful to me. He has shown himself strong on my behalf. When our car was somersaulting, I just kept saying I shall not die. I do not have a covenant with death. We lost people in our vehicle but God preserved my life and I knew He did that for a reason. God has been indeed faithful and awesome and it has just made my victory and testimony sweeter.

What do you think about beauty pageants?
Back when beauty pageants first started, they were viewed as trivial events. But now I think it is considered one of the best ways to bring women's respect in this world. Beauty pageants strive to give women the opportunity to rise to the top, promote community involvement like visiting orphanages, helping children with malaria, AIDS, etc. The skills learned in pageants last a lifetime. Contestants gain the ability to speak, and a sense of power within themselves. Winners of these pageants feel a sense of accomplishment within themselves.

How do you see beauty pageants in Nigeria?
Organizers of beauty pageants in Nigeria have come a long way and they have really made an impact. But I am encouraging more Christians to come into the field because I strongly believe in healthy competition. However, it is a competition that promotes individuality, confidence and overall achievement among all contestants. For contestants, they should not just desire fame and a crown but the winner of any beauty pageant should be a woman with uncompromising morals and a desire to serve her community through volunteerism.

What is your advice to those who look down on big women?

Society, media and the fashion industry tend to deny the fact that 55 per cent of Nigerians are plus-sized. It's time for everyone to embrace and accept us for the beautiful people we are! The media promote a biologically unattainable ideal. Food has become a tempting taboo. Plastic surgery has upped the gamut of perfection. I encourage all plus-sized women to break loose of society's stereotypical thoughts and views of who we are which have determined our sizes.

I want them to know that they are beautifully and wonderfully made by God. They should love, appreciate and believe in themselves, holding themselves in high esteem and high standard and remembering that they can achieve whatever they want to achieve and being whoever they want to be in life. Sizes have nothing to do with it. Maintain a positive outlook.

Let others insult you if they wish, but refrain from insulting yourself. Beauty comes in all sizes, so enjoy being who you are. Do not try to look like someone you are not. If you want to lose weight, do it in a healthy way by exercising and eating right. Being smaller doesn't necessarily mean you will look beautiful but being healthy does.

Don't compare yourself to everyone else. As long as you are yourself people will love you for that. Don't even think about other people's opinions and don't focus on pleasing them. Do not care that you don't look like the women in popular magazines. You are unique. Please, be proud of who you are.

Although being overweight is stereotyped as being unhealthy, some people like me are just naturally that way. Eat right and get regular exercise. Don't go on crash diets. Health and beauty aren't measured in kilos. Most importantly, be yourself and feel beautiful even if someone tries to lower your standard.

What was your growing up like?
Growing up was fun, though I had a very strict father, who made us really study even at a very tender age, I grew up in a very comfortable environment, my parents were quite comfortable but and although, I was the last child, I wasn't spoilt at all.

I learnt to be very hardworking at an early age and I believe that has helped make me who I am today. I owe the credit to my to my family, the friends that encouraged and motivated me.

How did you get to know about the pageant?
I was told about it and I would later read about it in the newspapers.

What gave you confidence to go in for the competition?

Honestly, I did not think I was going to win. I just stayed positive and true to myself all through the competition. I have a great personality, a high level of intelligence and I am a people's person. I think that attracted the judges and organizers to me.

How did you feel when you were declared the winner?

I felt really humbled. I immediately gave God the glory for making me a role model to all the plus-sized people in the society.

How is your life as Miss Big World Nigeria?
Being a queen has given me more responsibilities. My schedule is busier than usual these days but it's the kind of activity I don't foresee myself giving up. Days seem shorter because I have a lot of work to do. I have to wake up really early and sleep quite late. I have to function at home, at work and as a beauty queen. Despite that, I still remain my very humble self.

What are the benefits?
I gained a lot not just monetarily. I got to meet different people and I learnt to be tolerant and very patience with people. Entering the competition also made me learn so much more about my country and most importantly, I have learnt to hold myself in high standard no matter my size.

What are your achievements?
As Miss Big Nigeria, I have achieved quite a number of things. I have been able to visit three orphanages. I have partied with them and provided them with educational materials, medical equipment, clothing, food stuff and some beverages. I have taught some orphans vocational skills and right now I am trying to create awareness about mass deworming.

Do you know that hundreds of thousands of children in Nigeria are infected with parasitic worms? These worms are detrimental to children's health, their cognitive development, their education and a brighter future. Chronic illness caused by worm infections reduces literacy and thus adult productivity.

I am making efforts to provide deworming tablets to local schools, clinics, as well as communities and women's organizations where large numbers of residents can gather to be treated

What do you do at the moment?
I am a make-up artist. I have been immersed in the world of make-up for about two years now. I own and manage Kristabel Makeovers a a beauty enterprise that enhances the beauty of women.

What negative or positive effects did the pageant have on you?

Honestly speaking, I don't know about disadvantages but I learnt a lot positively from the competition.

How do you cope with male admirers?
I ward off male admirers nicely.
Are you into a relationship or married?
I have a great man in my life, my best friend and my soul mate

Give me a sense of who your ideal man is?
My ideal man is someone who is humble, understanding, handsome, educated and romantic. But most importantly, he must have the fear of God, a kind heart backed up by a good sense of values, morals and a great sense of humour.

What does love mean to you?
Love to me is the very essence of everything special and beautiful. And in any relationship or marriage, love to me is having peace of mind. It is just that simple.

As a graduate of engineering you ought to be in the field. Why beauty pageant?

I have come to learn that you can be whoever you want to be in life. I have always loved everything beauty, and as a child, I would draw faces and colour them.

I studied Electrical Engineering because I wanted something challenging. But after my graduation, I did not want to look for a white collar job, so I went into what I loved doing best which is beauty and make-up.

What do you think makes a woman beautiful?
A woman is beautiful because of what she has inside, particularly when she can express that externally. I am talking about having a kind heart and having lots of love to share. She must have intellect, a good disposition, humility and a warm captivating personality. Physical beauty fades but inner beauty lasts forever.

What should we expect from you in the nearest future?

I am planning to setup a programme or a pageant that will help encourage the plus-sized women to build up their confidence and let them know that there is more to being big. I am actively involved in Eliminating Malnutrition in Nigeria and Reaching Out to Homeless and Orphaned children in Nigeria.

I love kids with a passion so I would love to have an NGO to take care of homeless children. A life of purpose for me is to be an instrument of God to affect lives. I just see myself doing the same thing I am doing today. Five years from now and even 20 years from now I will be investing in children in anyway I can and reaping the many joys associated with it. The children are our future leaders.

Who do you aspire to be like?
I greatly admire Oprah Winfery and I aspire to be like her because she has touched so many lives through her philanthropy.

What challenges do you face?
It is mostly monetary challenges. There are lots of things I would love to do like providing more educational materials, medical supplies, clothing, foodstuff, beverages, etc to more orphanages. I would also love to provide deworming tablets to public schools, clinics, etc. But I can't do it alone. I need help getting it done. In the past I had been sponsored by some companies that provided educational materials and beverages that were taken to the orphanages.

Without people's help, thousands of Nigerian children and pregnant women will continue to suffer the harmful effects of intestinal worm infestation. Without your help, the number of people who suffer severe and permanent impairments because of untreated worm infections will stay right there in their thousands. The good news is that the cure is safe, cheap and effective. I need everyone's support.