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'Fat Chance': A Plus-Sized Beauty Contest

Contestants gather for the first round of the Los Angeles-area open casting call for <i>Fat Chance</i>.
Teshima Walker, NPR
Contestants gather for the first round of the Los Angeles-area open casting call for Fat Chance.

Casting directors recently held auditions for comedian Mo'Nique's reality show Fat Chance in New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Teshima Walker, a producer at NPR, figured she'd try to become one of the finalists.

An e-mail sought women size 14 and over to compete. "I'm the winner already," Teshima says confidently. "On the day of the auditions, I wear my size 18 Baby Phat jeans -- the dark boot-cut denims extends my frame. I did something exciting with my locks. I take extra care with my make-up and slip into my high-heeled, strolling mules. I am cute..."

When Walker arrives at the hotel where the casting call is being held, she's surprised to see hundreds of women already there.

Each of them faces a panel of judges -- in reality, a circle of other women -- and are grilled on their appearance, poise and confidence.

"My connection with the judges was, shall I say, not 'all that,'" Walker confesses. "I think the executive producer rolls his eyes as I go on about my martial arts and dance classes, proud to be a strong, athletic fat woman."

She ultimately doesn't get called back for another round, but there's a lesson learned.

"There'll be no 15 minutes of fame for this fat, fit and fabulous diva," she concedes. "But I know this much about competition: Some days you're the fastest person out of the starting block, and other times you're trailing behind everybody bringing up the rear."

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Teshima Walker