Uttlesford teenager regains confidence following years of bullying
- Credit: Archant
Years of bullying left Hannah Poulton, 18, unable to even leave the house. But now, seven years on, her life is back on track after she stepped into the limelight.
Being confident may seem like it comes naturally to Hannah Poulton – the 18-year-old has just been crowned Miss Glitzmania at a beauty pageant and is preparing to compete in Miss Galaxy next month.
The Clapton Hall Lane resident loves nothing more than getting dressed up and taking to the stage for the events. But this is a far cry from her former self.
At the age of 11, Hannah was forced to quit school and could not face leaving the house after years of bullying left her severely depressed and agoraphobic.
The physical and verbal abuse over her appearance was so bad she even contemplated suicide. However, a few years on, the trainee beautician has transformed her life and believes the turning point was entering the pageants.
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“When I was being bullied I felt horrible about myself and believed I wasn’t worth anything,” she told the Broadcast.
“I left school, was put on antidepressants and started seeing a counsellor. During this time I really tried to focus on myself and at 14 I decided to enter a pageant as I wanted to get into modelling. It was quite scary because I did not really see myself as pretty or anything – it took me ages to find a dress.
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“But when I got there I just loved the whole atmosphere, everyone was so friendly and welcoming. It just gave me confidence and made me think that it did not matter what I looked like.”
After that first pageant Hannah carried on competing and in 2012 won her first competition. She has been making quite an impact on the industry and for the first time in February, will be entering the prestigious Miss Galaxy.
As well as wanting to pursue a career in modelling, Hannah is also training to be a beautician and will soon be starting a part-time job in Naturals Health and Beauty, on Angel Lane - something she says would not have been possible before.
“The pageants have done so much for me,” she added. “I don’t know where I would be now if it wasn’t for them. I have actually made something of myself. It finally feels like everything is falling into place for me.”
Hannah, who has raised more than £2,000 for charity through the pageants, says she tries not to think about the bullying, which started in primary school and carried on when she went to Helena Romanes, on Parsonage Downs, but only wishes she had the courage to fight back at the time.
“I ran away from it,” she said. “It may not have been the best decision but it is really hard when you are going thought something like that. I would advise anyone in that situation to try and fight back but it isn’t any easy thing to do.”
The teenager’s mum, Louise Poulton, 50, is incredibly proud of what her daughter has overcome.
She said: “It was a really hard time for us as a family. I had not realised how much the bullying had affected Hannah.
“When you have children you constantly have walls you have to break through and you do it. But I did feel this was one wall that was not coming down.
“I believe that first pageant was Hannah’s turning point. It gave her so much confidence and made her believe in herself.
“Before if she was in a room of people she would want to be in the corner and hide.
“It is wonderful to see her now.”