Friday 9 December 2016

Galway Races Best Dressed Lady Lisa 'has the last laugh' after overwhelming reaction to anti-bullying post

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 03/08/2016 | 12:33

Lisa McGowan, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, who was named best dressed lady, pictured with racegoers at the Galway Races in Ballybrit, Co Galway. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Lisa McGowan, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, who was named best dressed lady, pictured with racegoers at the Galway Races in Ballybrit, Co Galway. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Lisa McGowan from Tullamore won the Best-Dressed Lady competition on Ladies’ Day at the Galway Races. Photo: Hany Marzouk
Lisa McGowan, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, who was named best dressed lady, pictured with racegoers at the Galway Races in Ballybrit, Co Galway. Picture: Andrew Downes/Xposure
Lisa McGowan (right) from Tullamore, Co Offaly, was crowned Best Dressed Lady at the Galway Races at Ballybrit in one of her own designs, taking home the €10,000 prize. Garda Ciara Murphy (left) from Dunboyne, Co Meath, scooped the Best Hat title. Photo: Ray Ryan
Finalists: Mary Wolfe, Lisa McGowan, Anne McCarthy, Linda Morisson and Winner Sarah Donworth from Limerick at the Spring/Summer Best Dressed Lady at Naas Racecourse. Picture: Michael Donnelly.
Best Dressed Lady competition winner Lisa McGowan, from Tullamore, Co Offaly. Photo: Andrew Downes
Lisa McGowan, who was named the g Hotel & Spa Best Dressed Lady at the Galway Races . Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure

The winner of Best Dressed Lady at this year’s Galway Races has taken on the trolls and won.

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Lisa McGowan, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, decided to speak out about cyber-bullying after receiving a torrent of abuse from online trolls following her win at Ballybrit.

Rather than focusing on her outfit, the nasty comments targeted her body shape, her skin colour and her smile.

In a Facebook post, the insurance broker lambasted her critics, writing: “I've read lots of stuff about me over the last few days, horrible hurtful comments ‘droopy boob syndrome’, ‘should have worn a bra’, make-up atrocious, tangoed, satalite [sic] dish reception, fake Hollywood smile..Oh lads the list goes on.”

Best Dressed Lady competition winner Lisa McGowan, from Tullamore, Co Offaly. Photo: Andrew Downes
Best Dressed Lady competition winner Lisa McGowan, from Tullamore, Co Offaly. Photo: Andrew Downes

She also warned trolls to take responsibility for their comments, and to recognise the impact they have on people: “To all of you cyber bullies out there... P**S OFF AND GET A LIFE. Would you like to be on the receiving end?”

Speaking to Independent.ie, Lisa said she felt she had to defend herself.

“I’d had enough, to be honest. It’s the Best Dressed Lady, if you don’t like the dress or the hat or the way it’s styled, that’s fair enough, but things started getting personal,” she said.

“I’ve always been known to stand up for myself and my family, it’s just the way I was brought up. I said, ‘I’m not taking this anymore’.”

Lisa McGowan (right) from Tullamore, Co Offaly, was crowned Best Dressed Lady at the Galway Races at Ballybrit in one of her own designs, taking home the €10,000 prize. Garda Ciara Murphy (left) from Dunboyne, Co Meath, scooped the Best Hat title. Photo: Ray Ryan
Lisa McGowan (right) from Tullamore, Co Offaly, was crowned Best Dressed Lady at the Galway Races at Ballybrit in one of her own designs, taking home the €10,000 prize. Garda Ciara Murphy (left) from Dunboyne, Co Meath, scooped the Best Hat title. Photo: Ray Ryan

“No one’s going to diss me or my boobs or anything else - I am who I am, I’m the shape that I am, I’m healthy and thank God there’s nothing wrong with me.”

She added that the worst part of the experience was that people were posting the hateful messages anonymously.

“Nobody has the right to tear anybody down, especially anonymously. Say it to my face and be prepared for my reaction, but don’t say it behind my back, behind a screen,” she said.

Lisa’s post has since received close to 5,000 likes and hundreds of comments from women showing their support. She said it has already reached 350,000 Facebook users.

Lisa McGowan, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, who was named best dressed lady, pictured with racegoers at the Galway Races in Ballybrit, Co Galway. Picture: Andrew Downes/Xposure
Lisa McGowan, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, who was named best dressed lady, pictured with racegoers at the Galway Races in Ballybrit, Co Galway. Picture: Andrew Downes/Xposure

She said she’s been stunned by the reaction, but that it’s shown her there is such a thing as ‘girl power’.

“I absolutely did not expect such a huge reaction to the post. What I’ve learned from it is, girls look after girls. When you see the Spice Girls and the ‘girl power’ stuff, you think, ‘what a load of rubbish’, but there is so much truth to that.

“I’ve had at least 300 messages from complete and utter strangers, people who have no interest in fashion at all, saying fair play for standing up for girls who don’t have the courage.”

She worried that her parents would be unhappy with her use of expletives in the post, but said they’re proud of her for speaking out.

Lisa won a prize of accommodation and vouchers from the G Hotel worth €10,000, and is about to launch her own fashion line, Strawberry And Lime.

“At the end of the day, I got the last laugh, I got another 5,000 followers on my Facebook page and I’ve had a top Irish modelling agency on to me about doing some modelling work for them,” she said.

“It’s opened my eyes to how strong girls are, girls who are being bullied and picked on, girls who are hurt and feeling down. The support from women all over the country and from girls I didn’t even think liked me has been brilliant.”

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