Scoliosis sufferer Gillian (20) on Miss Ireland goal: 'I made a promise to myself to get out of my comfort zone'
A Miss Ireland contestant says she won't let her scoliosis diagnosis prevent her from giving her all in the competition.
Miss Cork Gillian Forde (20) was diagnosed with the spinal curvature condition seven years ago and said she has successfully adjusted her lifestyle in the intervening years.
“I was really into dancing – ballet, jazz and modern from a young age. I started when I was five but I had to give all that up,” she told Independent.ie.
“I shot up about four inches in a year and my back was hunched a bit. My mom was actually doing tan on my back and she noticed my spine was curved.
“Since then, I’ve had muscle spasms and bulging discs pretty regularly. The pain is constant – I’m never not sore, but I manage it. It doesn’t interfere with my lfie.
“It hasn’t slowed anything down. I do a lot of swimming and pilates.”
Gillian, who is a third year commerce student at University College Cork, said she still feels self-conscious sometimes, but now she “knows how to pose”.
“I’m a little lop sided, I lean more to the right, but no one else even notices until I point it out,” she said.
“I’m a bit self-conscious about it, but I know how to pose and not to wear.”
In fact it was her lack of self-confidence that urged her to get out of her comfort zone and try something new that motivated her Miss Ireland efforts.
“I was the most self-conscious girl in the entire world and a year ago I made a promise to myself to get out of my comfort zone,” she explained.
“I entered a modelling competition at my university, UCC's Next Top Model because I’ve always hated having my photo taken and I came first runner up.
“Then I mustered up the courage to go for Miss Cork. I have a lot more self-confidence now and I trust my opinion a bit more."
Miss Ireland takes place tonight at the Crowne Plaxa Hotel in Santry, North Dublin.