Tuitele Crowned Miss Hawaii Plus


Sanoe Tuitele’s shocked, yet thrilled expression after hearing that she was 2019 Miss Hawaii Plus. Photo Courtesy of Miss Hawaii Plus (website linked at bottom of page)

Katherine Seed, Editor

Radford alumna and second-year resource math teacher earned the title of Miss Hawaii Plus after jumping into the pageant with no expectation of winning.

Miss Hawaii Plus is the state’s first beauty pageant encouraging body positivity and celebrating curvy, full-figured women. Sanoe Tuitele loved the idea of a pageant applauding body diversity and thought participating would be an enjoyable experience, but never believed she would have placed.

“I did the pageant just for fun. I just wanted to try it, so I just took a chance and jumped right in,” she said. “I did not expect to win. I was very shocked when they called my name. I just put my head down because I was like ‘Oh my gosh!’ I was just so overwhelmed.”

Tuitele shared that she experienced a tough upbringing, as her father struggled to maintain a job, so her family was forced to live in a homeless shelter at one point. In spite of the hardships faced, her family remained tight and they motivated one another.

Sanoe Tuitele confidently walking down the stage, shining bright with confidence. Photo Courtesy of Miss Hawaii Plus (website linked at bottom of page)

“We went through some hard times, but those times have made us closer than ever. When we face challenges today we remember all that we have been through together,” she said.

They continue to inspire each other today. Tuitele even expressed that her family’s support was her motivation during the competition and her favorite part of the pageant was seeing their smiles and hearing their cheers.

“For my family, it felt like we all won,” she said.

As she celebrated her victory with family and friends, they reflected on the qualities that made Tuitele stand out and shine brightly. Her family pointed out to her that she proudly demonstrated confidence when she stood tall and smiled from ear to ear throughout the pageant.

“My family said you could just see that I was confident. I wasn’t ashamed to show that I loved my body. I was okay with who I am and how I’m built and all the extra flabs that I may have,” she said.

Tuitele knows first-hand the difficulties that plus size women experience, so she chose to bring awareness to body confidence. She said her goal was to share the wonderful feeling of self-love with other women who may struggle with body image, as Tuitele struggled with that issue herself growing up.

“I grew up very tomboyish. It wasn’t until I was older that I really appreciated my body and believed that I was beautiful,” she said. “My idea for that is to branch out to different communities and promote self-love and just sharing different education purposes for women to learn more about themselves to grow, especially learning [etiquette] in different settings, learning how to beautify themselves for fun and to make them feel good, and also having different places that we can shop, having like a clothes drive where we can exchange clothes, and stuff like that. ”

Tuitele described Miss Hawaii Plus as an organization that breaks down barriers about plus size women and helps them to build a better confidence about themselves. As this year’s Miss Hawaii Plus 2019, she is looking forward to continuing that legacy and improve confidence in other women.

Emelie Ogata-Tambua (12) said, “I am super proud of Ms. Sanoe. She has come a long way…I remember just about last year around this time I was encouraging her to become an ambassador for Jeans Warehouse but of course she went 100 times bigga and won Miss Hawaii Plus. You gonna do even greater things in this world…”

“Miss Hawaii Plus is a pageant that empowers women who have curves, help them to break down barriers about plus size women, and help them to build a better confidence about themselves,” Tuitele said.

*To see more photos and hear more information, go to