THIS teen beauty queen beat the bullies to become a pageant princess.
Jessica Emmerson faced years of taunts about her appearance but has put the pain of bullying behind her to enter a Sunderland-based beauty contest.
The 17-year-old is a finalist in Miss 24 Carat, a qualifier for this year’s Miss England, Britain’s biggest beauty pageant.
Strutting her stuff at the Sunderland final at the Stadium of Light in April will be a far cry from the days when bullying dented Jessica’s confidence.
The teenager, from The Broadway, Grindon, said: “It started in years seven and eight. I was the only one who had come from Barnes Junior School in my class at Sandhill View School.
“I had never met any of the girls before and they took a dislike to me. They used to call me names because of my hair which was really thick, curly and frizzy.
“It was relentless and it really affected my confidence for a couple of years.”
Jessica’s mum approached the school many times about the issue and though it would die down for a short while, it would always start back up again.
It affected the teenager so much that Jessica tried to alter her appearance to prevent the bullying.
The Sunderland College student said: “I would try to straighten my hair as I thought that might make it stop.”
Fast forward to 2012 and Jessica has a new-found confidence which spurred her into entering Miss 24 Carat.
She said: “I’m really enjoying the build up to the final. I think it shows the bullies that they didn’t beat me down.”
Businesswoman Jodie Breeds, who runs 24 Carat salon, in Grangetown, bought the brand licence for the title in the hopes of finding the country’s top beauty queen.
Twenty girls will strut their stuff in the final on April 13 in the hopes of winning the title as well as a place in the Miss England finals, a modelling contract with I Am Models and a portfolio with Scott Spock Photography.
To help raise money for the contest’s three charities – SAFC Foundation, Team George and Beauty with a Purpose – Jessica is hosting a charity night at the Roker Hotel.
The event, on Saturday, will feature dance performances, a three course meal and a raffle.
Tickets are £15 and are available from tel. 07411 286 773.