Thursday 23 October 2014

'I used to feel so isolated' - Irish model's online bullying hell

Published 15/01/2014 | 11:46

Twenty-year-old Aimee Leigh McGullion was signed to a modelling agency at the age of 14 but to the loss of her best friends. (Facebook/Aimee Leigh McGullion Official)
Aimee (right) pictured with a friend (Facebook/Aimee Leigh McGullion Official)
The Fermanagh woman won Miss Bikini Fermanagh last year (Facebook/Aimee Leigh McGullion Official)

A model and former Rose of Tralee contestant has told how her own school-friends turned against her when her modelling career took off.

Twenty-year-old Aimee Leigh McGullion was signed to a modelling agency at the age of 14 but to the loss of her best friends.

Using social media network Facebook as a platform, the group of girls spoke about Aimee publicly and mocked her.

“These had been my friends for most of my life, since I was in school,” Aimee told RTÉ’s John Murray Show this morning.

“There were six or more girls involved. When my modelling began to get noticed, my friends began mocking me, posting stuff on Facebook that was there for me to see.

“It was there to intimidate me,” she continued.

“They used words like ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ and called me names. They used to post photos of themselves wearing scruffy clothes pretending to be me.”

Originally from Fermanagh, Aimee moved to Sligo at the age of 17 as a means of escape.

“I think if I had stayed at home I wouldn’t have coped as well as I did,” she said.

“I used to feel so isolated, I didn’t have a social life and I did definitely question whether modelling was the career for me.

“I felt so low because when someone says something to you, you take it to heart.”

The Miss Bikini Fermanagh 2013 winner also told of how one day when she was out walking, one of them shouted obscenities at her from across the road. 

“My parents and family supported me but I didn’t want to take it any further,” she said.

“I felt like if I took it further, girls would make my life a living hell.”

Just two of the girls sent Aimee a letter of apology when her sister explained to them what they were doing and how it affected her.

Aimee said she was never given an explanation as to why they decided to pick on her, but feels she can hold her head up high now.

“I hope it was jealousy,” she said, “I honestly don’t know what I did to them.

“Obviously with girls, jealousy is a problem. If you’re an attractive girl, I think others will try and put you down.

“I will forget, but I won’t forgive them. I can’t, for what they put me through.

“Now I hold me head up high, I don’t give them the satisfaction.

“I’ve got over what they did. I proved them wrong with my career and they didn’t get what they wanted.

“I always say to young girls now, ‘don’t give them the satisfaction’.”

Aimee Leigh McGullion was approached by a school principal to speak to students about bullying after her story appeared in the local newspaper.

“What I’m trying to do is help young people, it’s not easy but you have to get your message across,” she said.

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