Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

How Miss Ireland contestant Jade O'Neill defied the bullies to let her true beauty shine

Jade O'Neill
Jade O'Neill

A Miss Ireland contestant has revealed how just a few short years ago she was a target for bullies because of her weight and looks.

Miss Armagh Jade O'Neill said she was attacked over her glasses and braces as well as for being overweight and rather than give in to her torturers, decided to fight back.

The 22-year-old university student from Newtownabbey in Co Antrim said she had turned her life around and was excited about entering the Miss Ireland competition.

She said: "I have just completed a four-year honours degree in fashion management and am currently awaiting the results.

"I decided to enter Miss Ireland as I felt I would be a great ambassador for our country.

"Entering Miss Ireland wasn't on a random impulse, I have been working towards this for a few years.

"A couple of years ago I was six stone heavier, I had no confidence, had braces and wore glasses.

"I was constantly a target for bullies, but masked this with my outgoing personality.

"I decided one day I wanted to lose weight and didn't stop until I reached my target.

"I set my goal high and that was to be an ambassador for our country.

"Losing the weight led me to then start up my own blog to inspire others and even got backing from Miss USA contestant Bree Boyce who lost 10 stone."

Jade said she now tries to inspire others with similar problems.

"I help others with the same problem and it gives me a great sense of achievement helping others, even if it is on such a small scale."

She is also involved in film and works with young people on the Cinemagic festival.

The Miss Ireland final takes place on July 20 in Dublin.

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