Beauty queen bites back at bullies
Once bullied beauty queen Casey Radley is hanging up her tiara to help young girls grow into confident, successful women.
She's launched Aspire Mentoring and hopes it will combat the Tall Poppy mentality she says has affected her so deeply at times.
Radley won the Miss International NZ pageant in 2013 and took third place in the global pageant.
But being in the spotlight has a downside, she says, noting that she'd been subject to a lot of bullying throughout her life.
It is a problem that she believes is widespread and she is passionate about helping solve it with her new project.
"I know where these girls are coming from and I perceive myself as being on the same level as them. I am no different," she says
"I was picked on badly at school and I had no friends at all. I ate my lunch in the toilets and I had food thrown at me and girls threatening to beat me up every day."
She suffered from low self-esteem and self-blame.
"I thought this is the worst, there must be something wrong with me. Or I must be ugly."
Girls nowadays have it worse and feel like they have no-one to talk to, she says.
"I want to let them know they are not the only ones who feel like that, and there is something they can do about it."
Radley says it is the tall poppy mentality in New Zealand.
"Overseas you are celebrated for being good at something, whereas here you can be despised for it."
It's hindering progress in society, she says.
Radley hopes Aspire will give girls a place where they can feel safe to share their problems and gain advice.
"My door is always open. I believe that if you want to do something then you just have go out there and do it.
"That is the message I want to promote to these girls, to help them achieve that."
North Shore Times