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Real Life

Bullied teen to pageant queen: "I'm living proof that beauty is more than just skin deep"

How I learnt that my bullies are the ugly ones, not me!

By As told to Take 5

Elice Craig, 20, from Dean Park, NSW shares her story:

I kept my head down as I scurried through the bustling corridor, hoping to stay invisible.
"Hey, look, it's Cyclops!" someone jeered, as people broke into fits of laughter.
I moved my fringe over my face and kept walking. There was no way I could let them see me cry.
I'd been blind in my left eye since I was seven, after surgery to remove a cyst damaged my optic nerve.
For months, I'd struggled to adjust to partial blindness, walking into walls and dropping the ball during school sport.
But worst of all, a scar from the surgery grew over the entire eye, turning my naturally-brown iris a milky blue colour.
I was bullied from a young age. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
It sounded ridiculous but desperate for validation, I joined a modelling agency.
I was stoked when I landed a gig walking in the runway at a wedding expo.
But, before the show, the hair and make-up artist hid my left eye beneath my fringe.
I was crushed.
She was as embarrassed by my fault as I was.
After school, I tried to leave the taunts and insults behind me.
I didn't fit the usual definition of beauty but neither did most women I knew.
I just wanted to prove that imperfections could be beautiful, too.
One day, I came across the Miss World website.
The latest winner was a refugee and one of the finalists was a woman in a wheelchair.
I was instantly inspired by their beauty and decided to apply.
I think my eye is beautiful and different. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
Weeks later I got an email saying I'd been selected for the preliminary finals.
Mum was thrilled.
"I'm so proud of you!" she squealed, hugging me.
A week later, she was watching me step on stage in my evening gown.
Under the glaring lights, I felt more confident than ever.
I had a point to prove and I wasn't going to fail.
When it was time for the 12 finalists to be announced, I was so nervous I didn't hear the judges call my name.
"Me?" I gasped.
I couldn't believe that after years of being told I was worthless and ugly, I'd gotten to the state finals in a beauty pageant.
My parents are so proud. Pictures exclusive to Take 5
To my total amazement, I was named as a NSW finalist and will now compete in the national Miss World Australia Finals.
I'm so happy to be a role model for young women and girls who are different.
I'm living proof that beauty is more than just skin deep.

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