A schoolgirl who was forced to flee the country after being bullied over her striking looks has had the last laugh – by reaching the finals of Miss England.
Rheanna Cartier, 17, suffered with low confidence and stopped eating properly after she was tormented by jealous classmates as a youngster.
She was subjected to name calling, physical violence and cyber bullying before her parents decided to move to Denmark when she was 14 to escape the abuse.
Rheanna attended Skals Efterskole, an international boarding school near Viborg, and spent a year there studying for her GCSE’s.
She said the experience helped her overcome her shyness and low self-esteem and she returned to the UK a different person.
Last month, Rheanna silenced the cruel bullies – who used to brand her “a slut” and “a prostitute” – after securing a place as a wildcard entry for Miss England.
And she was overjoyed to learn she has now made the final of the prestigious beauty pageant where she will compete against 27 other girls this summer.
Rheanna, of Kingham, Oxon, said: “I was just in shock when they told me I had won and reached the final. I just never expected it in a million years.
“I was so happy just to qualify for the wildcard round – but to actually be in the final is just amazing and surreal.
“When they sent me my crown and sash in the the post, that’s when it started to feel real. I can’t wait to meet up with the other girls once we’re allowed to do so.
“I had always wanted to apply when I was younger but I never had the confidence to do so because of the bullying.
“It was really hard. I changed schools almost every year because we moved house a lot.
“I moved back to one school at 13 and I just remember my first day this group of girls in the year above just started calling me names.
“They would call me a slut and a slag. I had been talking to a boy in the year above who was quite popular and I think it was just jealously.
“I remember on one occasion one of them saying ‘why don’t you just kill yourself’ – it was quite extreme.
“They would also send me messages on social media so it was hard to escape.
“Because I was so shy I didn’t let it affect me for about two months but eventually it all became too much.
“I remember not having any friends as nobody wanted to be friends with someone who got called names and it just escalated.
“I was so scared of walking down the corridors. One of those who would pick on me was nearly 16 and in Year 11. I was a 12-year-old girl in Year 8.
“It got me down quite a lot. They carried on and one day it all got too much for me so I reacted and ended up in a fight.
“My mum had to come in for meetings because I wasn’t doing my work as I hated being at school so much.”
Rheanna said her mum’s Danish friend recommended going to a boarding school over there as private schools in the UK were so expensive.
She added: “Within a few weeks I was there. I spent one school year and sat my GCSEs out there. It was such a big thing but it really helped.
“Without that, I don’t know what I would have done. I would never have recovered and I think it would have got worse.
“It proved transformational – I started eating healthy and working on myself and doing a lot of self-care.
“After getting my confidence up I’m now trying to push myself just to do things that I wouldn’t do before and entering Miss England was one of those things.
“I would have been too nervous to do so before – but I’m not going to let those people stop me doing what I want to do.”
Rheanna, who is studying for a diploma in real estate, applied to Miss England after spotting an advert for the competition this October.
She has also become an anti-bullying campaigner and hopes her story will inspire other victims and help raise awareness and money for charity.
She has also bravely shared the messages of abuse she used to receive from the evil bullies including from one girl who branded her a “c*t” and a “lil prostitute.”
Others cruel messages tell her she is “pathetic”, has “no brain” and went to school “dressed like a prostitute”.
She added: “I thought entering Miss England would be really fun but also I could use this competition as a way to have a voice.
“I want to help others who might not have the opportunity I did to escape their bullies.
“It affects so many people and I think this competition could give me that platform I need to help other people.
“I feel I was sort of left without any help at my school and it is an issue that still happens today.
“My main focus for the competition is anti-bullying and helping victims afterwards so I am contacting lots of charities.
“My mums really happy about it because she knew it affected me for a long time and my confidence.
“She is also really passionate about my anti-bullying work because she saw how it affected me.”