From battling with anorexia to healthy beauty queen, Isabelle Crossland has come along way.
The 21-year-old psychology student was crowned the Beauty of South Yorkshire earlier this year and will compete in the Beauty of the UK national pageant this month with the chance of competing globally in Spain.
Isabelle said she ‘screamed’ with excitement when she found out she had won the crown and was also given an extra accolade – Miss Confident 2015.
She said: “It was a great as my confidence was very up and down and that stems from the past. I just thought ‘wow this is crazy’.”
But the Sheffield Hallam University student refuses to conform to the ‘nail filing, hair flicking, barbie doll’ stereotype as she describes it.
Working three jobs alongside her degree she is worlds away from this image.
“I think stereotypes are dwindling a little but they are still there. There are accountants, lawyers, just normal girls that just decided that they want to take part.”
Isabelle suffered from anorexia when she was 15, and struggled with low confidence and self-esteem. She is also visually impaired.
She said that taking part in pageants has made her more confident.
“When I was 19 I was so down and I was really struggling. I thought I’m never going to find a job, I’m never going to find a boyfriend but through pageants I can look past that.
“I felt like I was letting everyone down. If I could have talked to someone it would have helped.”
Isabelle, of Rustlings Road, Endcliffe, fought her illness and is now a healthy weight and size.
She said: “I want to set a good example. If someone wants to look like me, then I’d feel happy about that now.”
The beauty queen added that the competitions are a good platform to raise awareness as she often appears at charity events.
“It is difficult to talk to people about anorexia. But I’d like to tell people that whatever they are going through it is fine to feel that way and to find someone they trust to talk to. It will be alright in the end.
“The more people I can get to the better.”
But she said that the competitions aren’t for everyone.
“You are putting yourself in the spotlight and you have to speak on stage plus you are facing the judgement of other people.” But her confidence has grown the more she has taken part.
“The judges want you to show that you are the best person you can be, not a Victorias Secret model.
“You’re also not forced to show off any part of your body you don’t want to. Last year when I felt less confident for the swimsuit round I wore a sarong and a big floppy hat.
Isabelle said she is looking forward to her next challenge – the beauty of the UK competition.
“I will do pageants for as long as the make me happy. I’m never left sad or upset even if I didn’t win. I just leave wanting a pizza.”