Morecambe beauty queen beats the bullies

Harley Anderson, teen beauty queen and, inset, with some of her gowns. Picture by Mantis Photography.
Harley Anderson, teen beauty queen and, inset, with some of her gowns. Picture by Mantis Photography.

A Morecambe school girl has turned her life around after facing her bullies head on to become a teen beauty queen.

Harley Anderson used to be scared of her own shadow but now she is posing in front of cameras, strutting on catwalks and smiling for Britain.

Harley Anderson, teen beauty queen. Picture by Mantis Photography.

Harley Anderson, teen beauty queen. Picture by Mantis Photography.

By day she is an ordinary Heysham High School pupil studying Performing Arts, Beauty Therapy and Hairdressing. But by night she is organising her next photo shoot and entering as many beauty pageants as she can.

It hasn’t always been an easy ride for Harley who became Miss Publicity of Morecambe last year. The 16 year-old has faced several jibes about her passion, has been scammed by agencies and even had to take time off school.

Harley said: “In school I always get put down, people say ‘she’s not a model she pays for all her photo shoots’ but I don’t pay for any. In Year 9 I was off school for two to three weeks because it got physical and that knocked my confidence.

“I didn’t like talking about photoshoots in school, people take the ‘mick’ out of you and I am still overcoming that.”

Harley Anderson, teen beauty queen. Picture by John Mather.

Harley Anderson, teen beauty queen. Picture by John Mather.

Six years ago Kim Sunter took her daughter to a modelling session at Lancaster University.

It was there they learnt the dark side to the modelling world.The agency there promised the family contracts, contacts and portfolios to be featured on their websites. However the company did not exist and had no contact within the industry.

Harley said: “They took us into another room and said we believe we can get you work as a model.

“They took all the photographs there for the portfolio and it cost £300, nobody asked anything, we were a bit naive at the time.”

Beauty pageants, competitions traditionally focused on physical beauty but now incorporate personality and talent, can be a fierce and competitive industry.

Harley explains it is quite the opposite to what is aired on programmes in America.

She said: “It is really competitive in America but when you watch the programmes you realise it’s nothing like that here.

“I got to meet some lovely girls and it was a nice atmosphere to be in, I was quite surprised.”

At such a young age Harley is conquering her confidence issues in style but says she is a “completely different person” in the classroom.

With the help of her teachers at Heysham High she has succesfully learned to build her confidence.

A spokesman from Heysham High said: “We have a restorative justice system in place which works really well,.

“We will use whatever necessary and in Harley’s case that was the best case. Oftsed were really impressed with this system.”

Now the shy student has caught the pageant bug and is through to the semi-finals of Miss Teen Great Britain. She a is currently dominating in the online contest for Miss Popularity, leading the way with 1040 votes.

Kim was initially worried when her daughter asked her if she could enter beauty pageants.

She said: “When she said she wanted to do it I thought stress!

“But I was happy to support her. She’ll always be my little girl, I am really proud of her, she has come a long way.”

Harley is hoping to enter Miss World next year and is still waiting to hear if she has got through to the finals of Miss Teen Great Britain.

Mum Kim said: “It was just nice to see from the bullying to what she is now becoming.

“I’ve always said you can’t change people you can only change how you react to it.”