A model who was bullied for being a teenage anorexic has become one of the UK’s most successful beauty queens after winning Miss International five years on after being crowned Miss England.
Alisha Cowie, 23, overcame the odds after being taunted by classmates which led her to restrict her eating until she weighed just six stone at age 13.
Shockingly, she was picked on from the age of five by cruel children who branded her “fat” and then “too skinny” when she lost weight at secondary school.
Alisha says the bullying got so severe that she had to go to classes at set hours to avoid kids for her own safety after mobs started throwing rocks at her.
And Instagram images that glamorized anorexia also drove her to self-harm and contemplate suicide during her darkest days while she sought help.
But now, Alisha has beaten the bullies and had the last laugh after being crowned Miss International UK five years on from winning Miss England in 2018.
She is the only woman to win both illustrious pageants – making her one of Britain’s most successful beauty queens.
Alisha, who is also a professional photographer, wowed the judges last month to win a place in the Miss International finals in October.
Alisha, from County Durham, who previously competed in Miss World, said: “I had anorexia, depression, and anxiety all at one time. It’s really sad to look back on it.
“I was bullied for being ‘fat’ at five-years-old. It continued until I became 6 stone at 13, and then I was bullied for being too skinny.
“I was at 300 calories a day and the bullying definitely made my anorexia worse.
“It got so bad the school had to consider my safety which meant I went to school 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and sat in a separate room on my own to do my lessons.
“I had hot drinks poured over me in Year 7, it then continued to the point I had stones thrown at me on my way home from school.
“Bullies can be awful but thankfully as I’ve grown up I’ve come to realize it’s a reflection on them rather than me and sometimes the nastiest people need the most love and attention.
“I actually come from quite a poor background as well, so it was really hard to see opportunities.
“It’s a really difficult place to come from when you don’t have the money in the first place.
“When I was younger, I wanted to be a model, but I never thought it would be a full-time job.
“To be actually doing it full-time, I’m really happy, and now I feel pretty lucky.”
Alsiha beat 56 other finalists at the Miss International UK event held in Warrington and will go on to represent the UK at the international title in Japan in October.
Miss International is one of the world’s top four beauty pageants and Alisha has competed in two of them since being crowned Miss England in 2018.
Alisha said: “As far as I’m aware there’s nobody in recent history to win both Miss England and Miss International.
“There wasn’t any inclination that I would win. I never like to assume anything.
“But I made myself proud, I raised a lot for charity. My main aim was to raise money for charity. I raised £1,305 for A Sisterhood.
“That was the chosen charity for Miss International UK. They fund projects for women worldwide, in India and in Wales.
“I lost my friend to suicide in 2013 so that’s something that I’m passionate about.
“I was just so pleased that I was able to perform well on the day. There’s a lot of stress and time that goes into pageants. Winning is just the cherry on top.
“I was in pure disbelief, I knew I’d done a lot. It was just nice that the charity work and the effort that I put into the competition was recognized.
“The feeling was very similar to winning Miss England because I never expected to win that either.
“My dad just ran onto the stage when I won. With Miss England, I was kind of competing blind. With Miss International, I knew what I wanted to do to win.
“I would say they were both different times in my life for different reasons. For Miss England I was only 19 at the time.
“When I won last month, I’m fully self-employed and renovating a house. I was at different stages of my life.
“It’s one of the top three competitions. Pageants aren’t a big thing in the UK and I would really like them to be.”
Holly Pirrie, director of Miss International UK, said: “I am thrilled for Alisha, and she truly deserved to win.
“Alisha will be an incredible representative for the United Kingdom at Miss International and I know that she will have the trip of a lifetime in Tokyo.
“It was a beautiful moment to see her dad celebrate her success, it’s brilliant to see that love and support.
“The fundraising and volunteer work that Alisha has completed is truly outstanding.
“She is the definition of beauty, inside and out.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Jessi Rexroad Shull and Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld
“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”
Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.