Local Miss Florida USA contestant embracing her unique characteristics

Posted at 6:49 AM, Dec 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-14 06:49:51-05

TAMPA, Fla. — The Miss Florida USA competition wants to make sure all women feel confident and beautiful and one local contestant is doing her best to spread that message.

Chanel Bright isn't letting past insecurities hold her back.

"I used to feel like I couldn’t wear shorts because my thighs were much bigger and I couldn’t wear sleeveless shirts because I didn’t feel as good," she said, thinking back on how she used to feel about her body.

Now, she's embracing those differences. 

"If I don’t try, I’ve already made their decision for them," said Bright. It's what pushed her to apply for Miss Florida USA.

"A lot of people think blonde hair, blue eyes, size 2, almost 6 foot. I’m not like that. I’m sort of blonde but not really," she said, pointing out her ombre hair color.

She's half black, half Guyanese, 5 foot 2 without heels and a size 12 - all characteristics the new owners of Miss Florida USA love and are encouraging contestants to flaunt. They're calling the competition a #GirlBoss empowerment weekend, helping these young ladies achieve their goals and give back to the community. Chrisley Productions sent this statement: 

Beauty is everywhere!  We welcome every woman from every walk of life….of any size, ethnicity, financial standing, color, religion or political views.   We hope all young women participating this year, and in the years to come, feel at home with the Miss Florida USA/Miss USA/Miss Universe Organization.   We are inclusive! 

We strive to empower every young lady in her involvement with our Organization to reach for her personal stars, as evidenced by our Logo, to bring her closer to achieving her dreams.   The Miss Universe Organization is like no other competition of its kind, we continue to evolve as do women everywhere, and we are every woman.  Our mission is #ConfidentlyBeautiful. 

"Honestly sometimes I sit there and I’m like what did I do to create such an amazing human being," said Janelle Craig, Chanel's mom, who is clearly very proud.

"For her to not allow the stereotypes of what is expected of a young woman today, to deter her from doing this type of pageant is just amazing," she said.

Craig says watching pageants is something her family enjoys a lot - her mom named HER after the 1979 Miss Universe Winner, Janelle Penny Commissiong, the first African American to win the competition. 

"I tell people that story not realizing or not even anticipating my own daughter would be participating in a pageant that is directly related to the Miss Universe pageant," said Craig. 

Bright is not only influencing her younger sister but co-workers at the Clarion Inn. She is hoping to inspire more girls in the community.

"Skinny women, big women, short women, tall women - I want to show them as long as you are confident, you are beautiful," said Bright.