Life hasn’t been easy for East Sooke Resident Jenn Sheffield, but she is determined to make the best of it.
Sheffield was born in Nova Scotia and started dancing at the age of three. She loved being on stage, competing in pageants, but also practiced yoga and competed in multiple sports growing up.
“Despite having a wonderful family and childhood, I was sexually assaulted at a young age,” said Sheffield, adding that her mother was the only black person in the community she grew up, so her family faced a lot of racism.
The assault and bullying weighed heavily on Sheffield’s self-esteem, and by the time she was in her teens she found herself trying to disappear into the background.
“I started burying my feelings with food,” explained Sheffield.
By the time Sheffield was in her 20’s she weighed close to 400 pounds, and had already been married and became a widow.
Due to all of the emotional trauma, it took years before Sheffield decided to turn her life around and make the best of it.
“I realized that hiding in the background isn’t what I was meant to do,” said Sheffield. “I knew that nothing was going to change unless I learned to accept myself. So one day I decided to love the person I am, and when I did that, everything changed for me.”
She began doing things she loved again, such as yoga and dancing, and eventually quit her job as an occupational therapist to become a yoga teacher.
With these positive lifestyle changes, came an entirely new outlook on life; since 2014, Sheffield has lost 200 pounds and feels the most confident she’s ever been.
“When I changed my lifestyle and decided to love myself again, the weight just started to fall off without me even trying really,” said Sheffield.
“Even if you don’t have perfect skin, if you walk through the world feeling loved and giving love, people are drawn to that. And I was lucky enough to find love for a second time. I met my best friend.”
Sheffield wanted to share her new outlook on life with other women, so she decided to start entering pageants again.
“I had friends do it in the past and they all had such a great time, so I just had to try it,” said Sheffield.
She competed at Mrs. West Coast Globe last year and placed 13th out of 16.
“To be honest I was kind of expecting a lot of drama when entering pageants again, but what I found was the exact opposite. You meet a ton of like-minded women, who are doing amazing things within their communities,” said Sheffield.
Sheffield will be competing at the Mrs. B.C. pageant later this month against five other women. Before the competition, the women will learn self-defence moves, and will receive media training, and empowerment training.
“I am so excited to meet peers from around the province. These pageants are all about women empowerment and feeling good about yourself,” said Sheffield, noting she is most excited for the evening gown category, because she loves getting dressed up and feeling poised.
“I want to spread the word that all bodies are important, everyone deserves for their voice to be heard, and that an unconventional woman can still stand up and shine,” said Sheffield.