“Flab to Fabulous” Pageant: Mystery Prevails

I had a great chat on the phone with a very helpful woman in the Sales Department at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. She confirmed for me that the Flab to Fabulous Pageant does NOT have any event space booked for the dates May 26 to June 2. Those are the dates listed in this “Sponsorship Packet” I downloaded from the website. BUT the “Fabulous Foundation” DOES have various spaces reserved for the dates August 16 through the 26th including one of the smaller ballrooms and banquet rooms. They would have been required to put down a deposit to reserve these spaces and they can be cancelled. The percentage of refund they would get would depend on when they cancel.

When I first looked at the website, everything about it set off alarms in my head. It did not take much poking around to find plenty that just does not seem to add up. It has shocked me that so many people are not questioning the legitimacy of this event and its organizers.

Notice, for example, that the website does not list the pageant date ANYWHERE. You can only find the dates if you download that Sponsorship Packet and those May-June dates are definitely NOT what they have reserved with the Hyatt Regency. Are the organizers waiting to see how much money they’ll be able to collect in entry and semi-finalist fees before they decide to publicize confirmed dates? If they don’t collect enough money, would they cancel the event? Because if there’s one thing the website definitely makes clear THERE ARE NO REFUNDS and you might even get just plain blown off. The official rules include this warning:

Read all rules and guidelines for each phase carefully. You will NOT be contacted if your packet is missing items. It will be discarded, not judged and no refund will be given.

Well isn’t that nice! The entry fee is $97 and will become $199 after March 1. The Official Rules also claim that a “generous benefactor” covered the entry fee for the first 150 entrants but I know of people who have already paid so are we to assume that more than 150 people have entered? I guess so!

Also tucked away in the Official Rules is the information that after shelling out the entry fee, people chosen as “Semi-Finalists” are required to purchase a “package,” payable to the pageant for as much as $6600. This package includes hotel, travel, and food with no details provided what actual accommodations you would get. And of course there are NO refunds. The proposed 204 Finalists would represent over $1.3MM alone.

I admit it. I have grave suspicions about the pageant organizer, “Charlie Brown.” She describes herself as a highly-sought after educator. In digging around for her old websites, I found that she claims to have held seminars around the world for “hundreds of thousands” of people. That should make her extremely high-profile, wouldn’t it? A testimonials page is filled with fake photos, easily found on other web pages. She says she’s been the “CEO of the Fabulous Foundation for 12 years.” Well, there’s a little glitch there. The foundation was only registered as a non-profit corporation in Georgia last April.

Download that Sponsorship Packet and you’ll see the photos of an unnamed “2012 Honorary Winner” and “Penny Rudd–2012 Winner.” While Ms. Rudd’s Facebook page includes the same photo plus a couple more, I can find no evidence on her profile or anywhere online that a pageant was actually held last year. The domain name “flabtofabulouspageant.com” was registered in September 2012. The “winner’s” photos were posted to Facebook in July 2012. She should be enjoying a year’s reign that includes modeling, photo shoots, and public appearances but I can’t find anything online. According to the pageant rules, the reigning Ms Fabulous crowns her successor but a blogger has posted that during the course of a phone conversation with the organizer, she was invited to crown the winner this year. If the focus of the pageant is to educate the public and publicize the accomplishments of people who have WLS, we haven’t heard a peep from the 2012 winner.

A non-profit organization should be putting great emphasis on whatever is their particular service. The “scholarships” offered by this non-profit Fabulous Foundation appear to amount to little more than a few thousand dollars total. They are awarded to “integrated health care professionals” only for certain continuing education programs. It’s really moot anyway. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is tomorrow and that appears to be it for the year.

I urge you to consider carefully if you really want to give $97 to $199 to this organization to join this pageant. Keep in mind that if you’re chosen a Semi-Finalist—and I have a feeling almost everyone who enters will be—you’ll be hit up for as much as $6600 to compete. We really don’t know what the “prizes” are going to be. It’s possible the winner would be expected to pay their own expenses for personal appearances. There are no known sponsors affiliated with this event and the major WLS organizations have not volunteered their endorsement or participation. At least not yet. And of course, we’re not even sure what date the pageant is going to be held, if it is.

If you are driven by an interest in promoting WLS achievement and visibility, consider carefully if the Fabulous Foundation is the organization best suited to do that. Please consider instead to spend your money becoming a member of the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America or the Obesity Action Coalition. You’ll know exactly where your money is going and how it will be spent. If you have a need to be a visible member of the community, then let these organizations know you’d like to volunteer and I’m sure they’d welcome your help.

If you could afford to gamble as much $6600 to take a shot at becoming a pageant king or queen, won’t you consider how much that money could do, donated to the WLSFA or the OAC? The 204 finalists will pay over $1.3MM  to spend an evening prancing on a catwalk and hoping to wear a crown. Four winners will get modeling contracts and maybe make public appearances. Consider for a moment how many surgeries the WLSFA could pay for with $1,346,400. I’m asking you to give that serious thought. Thanks.



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  1. I could not be happier with the way you ended this blog entry, and I truly hope that anyone who has that kind of money to shell out would DEFINITELY consider making a donation to either organization instead of paying for a chance to wear a sash and tiara. THAT kind of generosity is REAL and true beauty – from the inside.

    1. We know the work of the WLSFA and the OAC, it’s no mystery! We know how our money is spent when we donate to these organizations. There’s been some talk going around of contestants saying they’d donate any prize money they win to the WLSFA. But it will take at least $97 and as much as $6600 to take the gamble that you could win any prize money at all. AND we don’t know how much it’s going to be! If any! The pageant website provides no details what all these prizes are going to be so the “return on investment” may be negative! A donation to the WLSFA or OAC is a SURE THING and you know it will reach so many people, no sash or tiara needed.

  2. As a journalist for 20 years, I appreciate your diligence in fact-checking, and your efforts to protect the public. That said, I felt that many of your comments were overly harsh, if not entirely one-sided.

    For example, you said that the dates of the pageant are nowhere to be found on the website. However, a quick review showed that the dates are listed on numerous pages, including Location > Hotel Accomodations, and Contestants > Pageant Phases > Finals Phase.

    You also wrote, “We really don’t know what the prizes are going to be,” yet, the Prizes page on the website clearly provides a partial list of prizes, which includes thousands of dollars in cash awards at every level. Similarly, you criticized the lack of funding for the scholarships offered. But, the scholarships are just that — an educational stipend for health care professionals working in weight management — and are separate from the pageant prizes.

    I met Charlie Brown several years ago at the annual ASMBS Conference and have seen her passion and commitment to helping the WLS community. I do not know her well personally, but I do know that she has been a tireless advocate for obesity awareness for many years, has spoken at numerous Obesity Help events, and has produced her own show on Blogtalk radio. I agree wholeheartedly that readers should support causes they believe in, and both WLSFA and OAC are very worthy organizations. I also believe that Charlie is trying to make an impact in a very different way, and that the pageant provides a unique opportunity for people to celebrate their success and encourage others to live healthier lives.

    1. Leslie, thanks for your comment. It would seem that a new page or two has appeared on the site, literally just today. I’ve been looking over this site quite extensively the last few days. I went through it just this morning with the Hyatt representative since we were discussing the fact that the event room reservations made with the hotel are for August and not for May-June. Go ahead and call the Hyatt Regency Atlanta and confirm the dates. The number is 404-577-1234. I spoke to Yvonne in Sales.

      I stand by my contention that this grand prize list is vague, especially since the minimum investment to make it to the finalist level will be $3200 paid to the pageant plus travel and accommodations:

      National Fabulous Tiara or Crown
      2 – Fabulous sashes
      National winner’s trophy
      Make over
      Modeling Contract
      National Magazine (name & photo )
      Personal appearances
      One year supply of vitamins
      One year gym membership
      Fabulous sponsors goodie bag
      Picture and story on our website

      No cash prize amount is listed and there are no specifics for the modeling contract or personal appearances. We don’t know what national magazine the winner will be featured in and there are no apparent sponsors yet so we don’t know how fabulous that goodie bag might be.

      The Sponsorship Packet materials feature a photo of the 2012 winner. If she won a similar prize package in last year’s pageant, I would think we’d be able to find at least some mention of her somewhere on the Internet—in a story in a national magazine, in the coverage of these monthly personal appearances she might be making, in some modeling photo shoot—something, somewhere. Where’s her picture and story on the current website? Photos of a recent public appearance?

      As for the cash prizes at the lower levels, they’re all still a gamble. You’ll pay $97 now or $199 after March 1 with no guarantee that you’ll win a few hundred bucks. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to make Semi-Finalist, you’ll have to come up with a few thousand more.

      I think the scholarships have to be taken into consideration. The Fabulous Foundation is a Georgia non-profit LLC so we’d be right to assume that any and all events are intended to raise funds for the foundation’s charitable activities. Is the foundation’s primary purpose to teach modeling techniques and provide public speaking coaching to formerly fat people? Apparently so since after tomorrow, applications for the continuing education scholarships are closed anyway.

      People would do well to evaluate this event carefully. Do they want to spend as much as $6600 to take a gamble that they might pay their own way to sparsely-attended public appearances or pose for modeling shoots that appear in a magazine with just a few thousand circulation?

      If you know Ms. Brown, can you confirm that she’s led seminars for “hundreds of thousands” of people in her travels around the world? I got that from one of her past websites.

      I hope no one’s using that new Hotel Accommodation page to book a hotel room for the week of May 26.

    • March on January 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    This is a blog, not a newspaper. It’s like an editorial, I expect an opinion. But I checked out the website myself and it’s fishy all right.

  3. Thank you for the thoughtful reply, Dagny. BTW, this is a beautiful website. I hadn’t seen it before and I look forward to following the Blog. Since my husband just got me a new Kindle, I’ll be downloading your eBook, as well!

    1. Thank you very much, Leslie. Coming from you I greatly appreciate it. The Weight Loss Surgery Channel has been a very impressive endeavor, the shear breadth of information provided was amazing! I have to admit I always felt bad that you had to find yourselves bumping up against that other WLS channel all the time—the ABC affiliate here in Chicago!

      Thank you for your interest in my book. I’d welcome your questions and comments. Go ahead! Hit me with a journalist’s inquiring mind!!! I look forward to it!!

      I made this entire website myself, btw. Your compliment has made my day!!

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