FORMER Miss Ireland Emma Waldron has warned this year's contestants not to expect instant fame and fortune from the title.
She revealed that Miss Ireland 2012 should be aware that suddenly being in the spotlight can be hard to contend with.
The model and trainee teacher (22) found out the hard way about the downsides to being thrust into the public eye after winning the pageant two years ago.
She was targeted by cowardly racists who sent her nasty messages online over her relationship with Nigerian boyfriend Manners Oshafi.
But the Dublin beauty reckons the experience made them stronger as a couple - but said contestants should enter the pageant with their eyes open.
"It's definitely a life-changing experience. You go from being an anonymous teenager or a student to being thrust into the spotlight.
"Everywhere you go, you have to be aware of your actions and your confidence really is tested," she said.
"At that age, you can be quite vulnerable and it is a big learning experience. You need to have your wits about you and your head screwed on properly if you win the pageant.
"You shouldn't think that everything is automatically going to be great if you win Miss Ireland. It's a nice thing to have but there are definitely downsides to it as well so you need to be sure it's really what you want."
She added that the winner of the April 28 pageant at the D4 Berkeley Hotel shouldn't expect instant riches either. She pointed out how the modelling industry is notoriously unreliable and they should always have something to fall back on.
She added: "It is an amazing opportunity for a young girl but it's also a matter of putting your head down and working hard for the year. The title is what you make it."
The newly-blonde model is now gearing up for her final exams in her teacher training course in St Pat's at the end of May.
And she has revealed how she is going to move to the US if she doesn't get the right placement after she graduates.
"I'm looking at going to New York or LA. You may as well seize these opportunities while you still can so I'd love to give it a shot," she said.
She added how she "adores" her newly blonde locks and went back to Ceira Lambert over the weekend to go even lighter and have hair extensions put in. "I saw Selena Gomez had them in last week and I thought she looked amazing," she said.