A hospital worker who once had zero confidence in her own body image is on the way to becoming a catwalk sensation after making it through to the semi-finals of Miss Curvaceous UK.
Catrin Stace-Jones, an operating department practitioner at Spire Yale hospital, Wrexham, is positive proof that a curvy woman can be glamorous having successfully modelled plus-size swimwear and lingerie.
But the 33 year old from Wrexham is more surprised than anyone about her venture into the designer-label fashion parade.
Just a few months ago her heart would sink at the thought of putting on a bikini for the beach or getting into a hot tub with pals.
She recalls how she almost ruined her own winter holiday because she was so uncomfortable with the way she looked.
She said: “We were in Croatia and I was so distressed. I had no confidence in my body at all. I would wrap myself up in a giant towel and only let go of it once I was fully submerged in the water.”
Today Catrin’s life has been transformed after her loving husband, Craig, an engineer for Spire Yale Hospital, entered her in a competition to win a modelling and make over photo shoot.
Catrin won and, although she was initially furious with Craig for secretly entering her, she agreed to do the photo shoot in Altrincham, Manchester, and has never looked back.
She has won contracts to do plus-size modelling work, entered Miss Curvaceous UK and is also being sponsored by her Spire Yale employers to compete in the prestigious Miss Model 2019 contest in London in November.
Instead of shying away in the shadows, Catrin – a dress size 14-16 – now goes all out to celebrate her curves and be proud of her body. She is even looking forward to a holiday with family and friends in Gran Canaria – this time ‘less stressed’.
“I’ll be in my bikini walking carefree along the beach with everyone else,” she laughed.
Spire Yale Hospital director Sue Jones commended Catrin for the way she has overcome her inner demons to achieve something she would never previously have thought possible.
She said: “We’re so proud of what she has achieved and her eagerness to now help others build up their self-esteem. She is not only a fashion model, but is a real life role model for us all.
“We’re a family here at Spire Yale and everyone – staff and patients – will be right behind Catrin in November wishing her to come home with the Miss Model 2019 title. She is proving that there is no standard when it comes to beauty. All sizes can be winners.”
Catrin said the modelling experience has 100 percent changed her outlook on life.
She said: “I can’t believe how different my mental attitude is. It’s completely crazy.
“At the start of the year if you’d have asked me to wear six inch high heels and walk down a catwalk in my bikini there is no way I would have done it.
“I had so little confidence in my own body I would have been sick to the stomach at the thought of it, but modelling has been so liberating. I’ve finally learned to feel good about the way I look and not worry about silly things like how big my thighs are.”
Catrin says she will always be grateful to Craig for believing in her, and to family, friends and work colleagues for supporting her through the experience.
She and her husband were childhood sweethearts who grew up in the same village, Coedpoeth, near Wrexham.
She said: “Craig told me he entered me in the photo-shoot competition because he wanted to help me build up my self-esteem. He wanted me to see myself as he saw me and not to focus on things I thought were negative about my appearance. It’s been a mega learning curve but it’s really transformed my life for the better. The experts at my first photo-shoot were brilliant, so patient and reassuring.”
Fuelled with a new inner confidence, Catrin is keen to help others who have negative images of themselves.
She said: “We’re all naturally different shapes and sizes and we should celebrate that. Life’s too short to be worrying about what we perceive to be inadequacies about the way we look. If I can discover that then so can others.
“If publicising my own experience helps anyone else get through their body image barriers then that would be brilliant.”
Catrin is now on the books of five reputable modelling agencies and has already been signed up to do some plus-size modelling.
In addition she helped raise more than £1,000 for the Macmillan charity by modelling lingerie at a fund-raising fashion show at Old Padeswood Golf Club, near Buckley.
She said: “I was the only one of the volunteer models who would agree to do the lingerie. I was really nervous but it was for charity so I quashed all my inner fears and agreed to do it. I’m so glad I did.”
She received a standing ovation from the fashion show audience for her courageousness in conquering her nerves.
Catrin is no stranger to charity work having long supported Wrexham food bank and the town’s Tŷ Nos hostel for the homeless. She and her Spire colleagues raised £800 for the hostel via a sponsored hike up Mount Snowdon.
But Catrin is adamant her head is not in the clouds about modelling. She is looking forward to the semi-finals of Miss Curvaceous UK after making it through the first stage heats held in Manchester earlier this month.
She is also grateful to Spire Yale managers who agreed to sponsor her in the Miss Model competition later in the year, where she will wear a sash with the Spire name on.
She said: “For me the joy of modelling has been in having my eyes opened to the fact that my natural body shape is nothing to be ashamed off. It’s about the new found confidence of being able to accept myself as I am.
Modelling has definitely opened new doors for me and is an adventure of the kind I never envisaged myself taking part in but it won’t take over my life.
“It’s a hugely fun release from my normal routine but my heart still belongs to my patients. I love my job at Spire Yale and theatre will always be my full time career.”