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Plus-size pageant promoter talks of relationships at ‘Honor Your Mother’

Plus-size pageant promoter talks of relationships at ‘Honor Your Mother’
May 07
00:00 2015
(Above: Photo by by Felecia Piggott-Long, Ph.D.- Antoinette Little, left, embraces “Honor Your Mother” event speaker Elaine Green Luke and her brother Byron Brown at the event for mothers.)

By Felecia Piggott-Long, Ph.D., For The Chronicle

Ben Piggott, the center supervisor at the Carl Russell Sr. Community Center, welcomed more than 85 mothers, fathers, children and community leaders  to the fifth annual “Honor Your Mother” luncheon held at the center on Saturday, May 2. 

Elaine Green Luke, the keynote speaker, had a troubled relationship with her mother that she feels led to her issues of low self-esteem.      

“Ladies, I want you to stand up if you have always had over-the-top self esteem all your life,” she said.  Only two women stood in the crowd.

“Statistics show that 98 percent of all women suffer from low self-esteem at some point in their lives. The two of you who stood are the 2 percent of women who have strong self-confidence. But the problem is there are just too few of you,” said Luke.

Luke  told her personal story of abuse through a poem she recited called “I’m Still Standing.” In the verses, she blames her mother for “allowing a grown man to violate me/ to take away my virginity.” According to Luke, this event zapped much of her self-esteem, but she is “still standing.”

Luke discussed how difficult it was growing up in the projects, while her mother criticized her for being so fat (432 pounds). Her mother also offered her material things to substitute for the love she failed to give to Luke. She wrote, “Growing up in the projects was really sad. Many of my friends left in a body bag.”

The abuse she experienced in her past repeated itself in the abusive marital relationship Luke endured for nine years. She discovered that the front window of her home was bullet-proof when her husband tried to throw a pressing iron through the glass to injure her. Through prayer, self-inventory and a commitment to her dream of delivering women from abuse, Luke was able to walk out of the abusive environment.

“Although I have had some difficult times, I have been blessed, and I am so thankful for my survival,” Luke said. “I found sistahs to help me with my vision. If I needed someone to cook or to design an outfit, I found a sistah who could do it.”

Piggott noted that even when some parents are not the best caretakers of their children, they can still have a positive influence over their children.

In 2002, Luke said, “I had a vision to reach out to plus-size women like myself, who had struggled with self-esteem and weight issues. I introduce to the world a very unique pageant – Miss Big, Beautiful & Bold Pageant, which was launched in Binghamton, N.Y. in 2010.”

The pageant is part of an organization Luke founded called Sista’s Uplifting Sista’s: Cause Our Self-Esteem Means Everything! This organization was founded as a result of the need to promote events for healthy-self-esteem in plus-size women and to seek global advancement for women all over the world. All of the women involved in the pageants receive tiaras, trophies and other special gifts. Some of the pageant winners suffer from sexual abuse, drug addiction, low self-esteem or other ills.

The next pageant will be in August in New York. Luke will hold future pageants in North Carolina now that she has relocated to this area. She used her own funds to finance the first pageant, but she will need sponsors to get contestants to New York. Some of the contestants do not even have the money to buy a dress, but Luke believes that the sponsors will come to continue this dream.

Her Facebook page and website are as follows: www.facebook.com/bigbeautifulbold and sistasupliftingsistas@nullyahoo.com.

Luke considers herself blessed that she was able to realize her dream of having pageants and being able to go to college at the age of 50.

Speakers and performers on the program included Brenda Smith Mayes, Betty Johnson, Byron Brown, Shirley Mosely and Play Play Productions. Piggott praised God for all mothers.

“I am grateful for all mothers today, including my own. She passed on March 12 of this year, but we have valued this event for the last five years because it offers the community a chance to express their thoughts about their mothers. All of these thoughts may not be positive. But even if these thoughts are not positive, we realize that our parents impact our destiny,” Piggott said.

In Betty Johnson’s poem “Mother , My Mother,” the speaker regrets that her mother has left her and her siblings to grow up in the Horizon Memorial Orphanage. In the poem, the speaker cries out for arms that will never hold her, for a voice that fails to say, ‘I love you.’

Byron Brown introduced his sister as the speaker for the day. Brenda Smith Mays performed a solo dance to Stevie Wonder’s “I’ll Be Loving You Always,” and the children of Play Play productions danced to “Whip Nae-Nae.”  Luke enjoyed the gathering.

“I met some very special people here in Winston-Salem. I believe that I am in the right place to continue my vision,” Luke said.

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