Taking the larger-than-life approach

Candice Manuel, 30, born and raised in Portland, is a top five finalist in the Miladys Model Search 2018.

A plus-size model, who has embraced her curves, is bursting to make her mark in the industry and in so doing, inspire others.

Candice Manuel, 30, born and raised in Portland but now living in Panorama, is aiming to represent Cape Town in the Milady’s Model Search 2018.

All the competition calls for is a model, whose dress size is bigger than 34, she must be older than 30 and have a charismatic personality.

Ms Manuel spoke to the Plainsman, at her office in Bellville, where she is a personal assistant to a top executive in the insurance industry.

In addition to her day job, she juggles attending modelling auditions, runs a kiddies’ party planning business and with the proceeds she hosts parties for children whose parents cannot afford it; is a blogger; and is co-owner of an apparel company.

Ms Manuel has certificates in financial administration and human resource management; and has just registered to complete a degree in industrial psychology through the University of South Africa.

“I have worked hard to get where I am today. I run between castings and sometimes I have to change clothing in really small spaces, even toilets. I have had people dress me and pull my hair.

“It is all very challenging but I need to prove to myself that I can do it,” she said.

Ms Manuel admitted to the Plainsman that she does not have a routine fitness programme and eats what she likes in moderation. “I don’t do anything strict and I enjoy fun walks, more than gym,” she said.

“This is by no means encouragement to have an unhealthy lifestyle,” she said.

Ms Manuel said her modelling career supported her through the latter part of high school, boosted her confidence and linked her to women who share their body image woes on her Facebook page: Embrace Your Curves.

“Every week, we have a “woman crush Wednesday” #WCW in which we post a video, from a woman, who speaks to her daily challenges,” she said.

At age 14, as a confirmation candidate, Ms Manuel was prompted by her parish priest to take part in the church’s carnival. She entered Miss Christ the Mediator and was crowned second princess. “This opened a can of worms because I got such a thrill,” she said.

Two years later she was a runner-up in Miss Tropica (Clover), winning R7 000 in total prize money, which she used to stock up on food for their household, paid for her matric excursion, dress and ticket to the ball.

She participated in pageants until age 18, when she wore a size 6. She lost interest in modelling and slowly started putting on weight.

Ms Manuel said it is not always a breeze being a model – rehearsals are hours long, only to be on stage for about a minute or two.

“Let’s say the event is at 2pm; I have to be there by 10am. We have rehearsals. People dress you, hair and make-up must get done. It is such a rush,” she said.

Ms Manuel said while the industry could be tough, her foundation was set when as a teen she joined Step Ahead Modelling Agency, run by Margaret Cooker, who trained Mitchell’s Plain youth in the art of grooming, being confident and how to deal with criticism. “Having been in the industry and participating in different pageants has taught me that you win some and you lose some. Yes, it is a competition but you make friends and you share in the joy if your friend won,” she said.

Ms Manuel said modelling is an exciting hobby, which she picked up again about seven years ago, when she met her husband. “Between the ages of 19 and 23 I had lost myself but then I met someone, who found me beautiful and I starting gaining my confidence back,” she said.

“I try to be raw, I embrace who I am,” she said.

Ms Manuel said she is grateful to her husband, who is at her side and supports her 100%. “I am completely transparent with him and I think that is why it works,” she said.

Ms Manuel said she is proudly from Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town, and is determined not to have her circumstances define her but rather to rise above it.

On Wednesday March 28, she decided to enter the Miladys Model Search 2018 online, with the support of her husband, family and friends.

To ensure she wins, visit https://ghmodelsearch.goodhousekeeping.co.za/content/entry-candice and vote for her. At the time of going to print (Tuesday April 17) Ms Manuel was placed third with 17 330 votes.