Having curves and being proud of it has scored a young Auckland woman the biggest gig of her life.

Daryl Thompson, 23, has been named the overall New Zealand winner in the City Chic United Curves International Model Search competition.

Miss Thompson was among 100 hopefuls who turned out from around the country to take part in the competition, which was held over three days in Auckland City.

Ten women were chosen to take part in a professional photo shoot yesterday and the group was later brought down to the final five contestants.

Miss Thompson grew up in Papakura, South Auckland, and is a former student at Rosehill College.

She works as a procurement officer at Sky TV.

Last night she was still coming to terms with the win.

"It's still setting in, I think. I called my mum and she had a cry over the phone. I'm just trying to understand it."

She heard about the competition two weeks ago while driving to work and decided to give it a go.

She asked a couple of friends to join her, but they pulled out at the last minute.

At a healthy size 16, Miss Thompson said she loved the way she looked and wanted to do something that would encourage other plus-sized women to feel the same.

"Just because you have a little bulge here or there, it doesn't mean you're not beautiful. People think that because you're curvy, you're fat. I've had people say to me: 'You need to lose weight'.

"But I don't think I do. I feel comfortable, so take it or leave it. I kind of have to rock what I got," she laughed.

Another key reason for wanting to take part in the competition was the idea that bigger women would be more motivated to buy clothes from someone they could relate to.

"I feel really good about my body and I kept thinking: 'Plus-sized girls are not going to buy clothes from a skinny girl'.

"Coming from South Auckland, there are a lot of big girls from South Auckland. I kind of feel like I'm representing them and that's cool."

Miss Thompson will travel to Sydney to take part in another model photo shoot with City Chic and wins a full City Chic wardrobe.

Women from all kinds of backgrounds - European, Pacific Island and Maori, African, Asian and Indian - turned up, following a call from organisers who wanted to "truly represent the global village".

By Vaimoana Tapaleao