A woman who suffered years of cruel taunts about her weight says reaching the finals of a plus-size beauty pageant has finally restored her shattered confidence.

Liz Hawcroft, of Isleworth , endured abuse from former classmates and even an ex-boyfriend, who she says would call her "Miss Piggy".

But she told how making the finals of the Miss British Beauty Curve competition had enabled her to conquer her body shape demons and feel beautiful again.

"I've always been a larger lady and I was bullied about my weight at school and even by an ex-partner who would call me Miss Piggy," she said.

Liz Hawroft says she wants to help prevent other children being bullied at school over their size, as she was

'I cried when I made the final because it meant so much'

"That really knocked my confidence and I'd never thought of myself as pretty but my current partner Darren made me believe I'm beautiful and convinced me to enter the pageant.

"I cried when I got the email to say I'd made the finals, because it meant so much.

"It's given me back my confidence. Before I never wanted to look in the mirror and I always wore baggy clothes but now I finally feel comfortable the way I am."

The 29-year-old, who works as a duty manager at Snakes & Ladders play centre in Syon Park, Brentford , will represent west London at the pageant finals in Brighton on July 30.

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Should she win, she plans to visit schools and spread the message that big can be beautiful and no one should be ashamed of their own body.

"I want to make people appreciate beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and try to end the kind of bullying that made my life so hard," she said.

Miss British Beauty Curve, now in its fifth year, was set up to celebrate larger ladies and is open to any woman with a UK dress size of 14 or above.

For more about the competition and to see the finalists, including Liz, visit the pageant website.